Chuck, Staten Island’s famous season-predicting groundhog, did not see his shadow this morning, indicating that we’ll be treated to an early spring. The forecast, which contradicted that of Chuck’s Pennsylvania cousin, Punxsutawney Phil, was great news for New Yorkers sick of snow, but there was one person who was even more relieved than the rest. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who became the center of a scandal last year after he dropped Chuck’s predecessor, a female groundhog named Charlotte, attended the Groundhog Day ceremony today, but kept a safe distance from the animal. Charlotte unfortunately succumbed to her injuries and passed away after last year’s accident, but Chuck made it through today’s festivities safe and sound.
Last year, Mayor de Blasio faced scrutiny after he manhandled Charlotte and dropped her. This year, organizers promised an injury-free groundhog ceremony.
In his opening statement, Mayor de Blasio quipped about involving NASA in developing a new process that would be “safer for both species.” To protect the groundhog, zookeepers placed Chuck in a plexiglass pen so that he would be free to observe his shadow, or not, without risking his life. A person in a groundhog costume also joined the mayor onstage as a kind of creepy reminder that he couldn’t be trusted near the four-legged meteorologists.
Staten Island Chuck has a history of disagreeing with Punxsutawney Phil, and Chuck’s accuracy rate offers some hope. According to past predictions, Chuck’s forecast comes true 80 percent of the time. While bitter cold winter weather plagues the Northeast, many are hopeful that Chuck’s prediction will hold and bring warmer temperatures early. The mayor was pretty pleased that the groundhog fulfilled his wish for an early spring, so here’s hoping that Chuck will live to see another shadow.