By Heidi Sutton
“Well, it’s Groundhog Day, again.” — quote from Groundhog Day (1993)
Pennsylvania may have the legendary groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, but here in Suffolk County we have our very own prognosticator of prognosticators, Holtsville Hal. The cute little rodent with his buck teeth and short bushy tail will be the star of the day as the Holtsville Ecology Site & Animal Preserve celebrates Groundhog Day with a special event on Feb. 2. Hundreds will gather to hear Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro announce Holtsville Hal’s famous forecast.
According to tradition, if a groundhog sees its shadow after stirring from hibernation on Groundhog Day, there will be six more weeks of winter weather; if not, spring should arrive early. Superintendent Losquadro will reveal Hal’s prognostication at approximately 7:25 a.m.
“Our annual Groundhog Day celebration is an enjoyable tradition for many local families,” said Superintendent Losquadro in a press release. “I’m always hopeful Hal will predict an early spring to help my snow removal budget, but either way this is a much-anticipated event each year in Brookhaven Town.”
“Holtsville Hal’s prognostication is anxiously anticipated every year and it’s always a relief when he predicts an early spring. Let’s hope that he doesn’t see his shadow on Groundhog Day and we can look forward to a short winter season,” added Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine.
Although he’s sure to be the center of attention, Holtsville Hal will not be the only animal available for viewing on Feb. 2. Following the ceremony, residents are welcome to enjoy some free hot chocolate and visit the more than 100 non-releasable, wild or injured animals residing at the Animal Preserve, including its latest resident, Leonardo “Leo” DiCatprio, the Eurasian Lynx, from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The Preserve is also home to a buffalo, black bear, bobcat, coatamundi, hybrid wolves, an artic fox, goats, horses, pigs, cows, alpaca, deer and many more.
Gates will open at the Holtsville Ecology Site & Animal Preserve, 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville, at 7 a.m.; parking is free.
Residents are asked to arrive as close to 7 a.m. as possible to get a good view of Hal. Call 631-451-5330 for more information.