A crowd of several hundred spectators booed and groaned as Suffolk County’s most famous weatherman’s prognostication was read at the Holtsville Ecology Site on Feb. 2, Groundhog Day. At 7:25 a.m., Brookhaven Town Councilman Neil Foley announced Holtsville Hal, the groundhog, had seen his shadow when he awoke Sunday morning, meaning six more weeks of winter for residents in the Town of Brookhaven.
While Nassau County’s fellow woodchuck, Malverne Mel, agreed with Hal, neither Staten Island Chuck, upstate’s Dunkirk Dave or Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, saw their shadows.
According to the peculiar Pennsylvania Dutch tradition, if a groundhog sees its shadow after emerging from his burrow on Groundhog Day, there will be six more weeks of winter weather; if not, spring should arrive early.
Superintendent of Highways Dan Losquadro, who was not able to attend the event this year, issued a statement on Monday. “I’m always hopeful Holtsville Hal will not see his shadow and assist with my snow removal budget,” he said. “However, if Hal’s prediction proves to be correct, the Brookhaven Highway Department remains ready to handle whatever Mother Nature decides to send our way.”
After the event, festivalgoers were treated to bagels and hot chocolate and were able to visit the 100 animals that call the Ecology Site home including deer, horses, goats, llamas, hawks, a black bear and buffalo.
“I want to thank everyone who took the time to come out and take part in this fun, annual tradition, including Councilman Neil Foley, who was the honorary Mayor for the Day, as well as the Holtsville Fire Department, 7-Eleven, Bagel Lovers, WBLI and Max 103.1 FM,” said Losquadro.
All photos by Kristen D’Andrea/ Town of Brookhaven Highway Dept.