Will it be an early spring or six more weeks of winter for the Buckeye State?
Ohio's official weather prognosticating groundhog is preparing to emerge from his den and offer up a forecast for the 42nd year on this Groundhog Day 2022.
Marion's own Buckeye Chuck has predicted an early spring in each of the past three years. He'll make his annual prediction around 7:40 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 2.
The Ohio General Assembly designated Buckeye Chuck as the state's official groundhog in 1979. According to his official Facebook page, Buckeye Chuck's predictions have been accurate 75 percent of the time over the course of his career.
Buckeye Chuck was the creation of the late Charlie Evers, a legendary Marion County radio personality who passed away in 2020. When Evers established the local Groundhog Day event back in 1979, he actually used one of the numerous groundhogs that lived on the radio station property.
Over the years, WMRN has partnered with area wildlife organizations to provide groundhogs for the event. Kokas Exotics of Green Camp is Buckeye Chuck's handler.
According to a press release issued by Paul James of WMRN-AM, Buckeye Chuck's official spokesman, "Chuck has been studying weather patterns, jet stream anomalies, computer models, and napping in order to procure Ohio’s most accurate springtime forecast. Buckeye Chuck is preparing to emerge from his personal den, in the woods behind the studios of WMRN Radio in Marion, to deliver Ohio's annual forecast. Not since the creation of the Doppler Radar has any weather-related event been talked about with such anticipation."
As always, the annual event will be broadcast live on 1490 AM WMRN and the iHeartRadio app. Video coverage will be livestreamed on the Buckeye Chuck Facebook page. The broadcast will run from 7 to 8 a.m. on Wednesday.
Scioto Shoe Mart in Marion is the event sponsor, James said.
James said there will be no restrictions on crowd attendance this year. No spectators were allowed to attend the proceedings in 2021 due to health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. James said WMRN officials encourage people to wear face masks at the event.
He said that Buckeye Chuck is looking forward to once again greeting his adoring public in person on Groundhog Day.
James noted that Buckeye Chuck’s fans can go to WMRN.com/Promotions to guess whether Chuck will, or will not, see his shadow, for a chance to win a $500 gift card from Miller Lawn & Power.
This year, James said, Buckeye Chuck fans can submit their favorite Spam recipe for a chance to win a $50 Visa gift card from Pillar Credit Union. Spam is pork with ham, which is ground hog. Submit a fun and delicious Spam Recipe at WMRN.com/Promotions
James said Buckeye Chuck is also asking local residents to support the St. Vincent DePaul Food Pantry by taking a donation of cash or a non-perishable food, valued over $5, to Scioto Shoe Mart at 206 James Way in Marion on Groundhog Day. The first 100 people who donate will receive a Hessler’s Screen Printing and More “I Heart Buckeye Chuck” t-shirt, while supplies last.
The origin of Groundhog Day can be traced to Candlemas, the ancient European celebration of the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. According to the tradition, fair weather on the day of Candlemas meant a stormy and cold second half of winter was in store.
Pennsylvania Dutch superstition brought the groundhog into play, stating that if one of the critters sees its shadow upon emerging from its den on the morning of Feb. 2, that winter will last another six weeks. If the groundhog sees no shadow, spring will arrive on time.
Punxsutawney Phil, headquartered at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is probably the most famous groundhog weather forecaster in the United States. Other weather-forecasting whistlepigs across the U.S. include French Creek Freddie from West Virginia; Gen. Beauregard Lee in Atlanta, Georgia; North Carolina's Sir Wally Wally; Louisiana's Cajun Groundhog; Smith Lake Jake from Alabama; Staten Island Chuck from New York; and New Jersey's Milltown Mel, who resides at a funeral home.
(Follow Andrew Carter on Twitter @AndrewACCarter. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
This article originally appeared on Marion Star: Will Buckeye Chuck see his shadow or not this year?