Pennsylvania may have the legendary groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, but New York has Malverne Mel, Holtsville Hal, Sweetbriar Sam and even Staten Island Chuck and Dunkirk Dave.
In the Town of Brookhaven, the great prognosticator of prognosticators, Holtsville Hal will be the star of the day as the Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center will celebrate with its annual Groundhog Day event on Feb. 2 with the gates opening at 7 a.m. Wayne Carrington will return as the master of ceremonies and Hal will be handled by Greg Drossel.
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. After a relatively mild season until this past weekend, anticipation into what Hal’s prediction will be is building. Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro will serve as “Mayor of the Day” and reveal Hal’s famous forecast at approximately 7:25 a.m. in an official ceremony.
“Groundhog Day at the Ecology Site is always an enjoyable tradition for so many local families,” said Losquadro in a press release. “After the last two winters, we’re hoping Hal will not see his shadow and predict an early spring. I want to thank the employees at the Ecology Site for making this a much-anticipated event each year in Brookhaven Town,” he added.
“Town residents have been braving the cold weather to celebrate Groundhog Day for years,” said Supervisor Ed Romaine in the same press release. “Last year’s weather caused Holtsville Hal’s public appearance to be canceled. This year, I look forward to some good news from Hal.”
Following the ceremony, visitors are welcome to enjoy some free hot chocolate and visit the more than 100 animals that live at the animal preserve, which will remain open until 3 p.m.
The Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center Animal Preserve is located at 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville. Parking is free. For more information, call 631-758-9664.