By Heidi Sutton
The Town of Brookhaven held its annual Groundhog Day celebration at the Holtsville Ecology Site and Animal Preserve on Thursday, Feb. 2. Many families with young children braved the frigid weather to hear a very important prediction from Suffolk County’s most famous weatherman, Holtsville Hal.
Before he read this year’s prognostication, Town of Brookhaven Superintendent Dan Losquadro gave a bit of history of Groundhog Day and how it began in Pennsylvania in 1886 but joked, “We like to say we have the most accurate weatherman. I know they’ve been doing it for longer there in Pennsylvania but Holtsville Hal is the real deal here. Punxsutawney Phil, he had his time; it’s time for Holtsville Hal now.”
At 7:25 a.m. sharp, before a crowd of several hundred spectators, the groundhog awoke from his slumber and saw his shadow, which, according to folklore, means six more weeks of winter.
Superintendent Losquadro read Hal’s official 2023 prediction with help from the town’s newly appointed clerk, Kevin LaValle.
“As I stepped out of my burrow on this early winter morn’, I rubbed at my eyes and let out a great yawn. It soon became clear the crowd was not here for Honey Bear, my prognostication was what everyone was waiting to hear. Six more weeks of winter or an early spring? I know you can’t wait what my prediction will bring. And so, at 7:25 a.m. on this brisk winter day, I have recorded my prediction and am sorry to say, at sunrise this morning I was startled to see, a shadow in the shape of … none other than me. I scurried back inside to return to my nap, not before reminding you to hold onto your mittens and cap. Spring will have to wait, Mother Nature is not through; six more weeks of winter you can look forward to!”
“I’m always hopeful Hal will predict an early spring and assist with my snow removal budget, but if his prediction proves to be correct, the Brookhaven Highway Department remains ready to handle whatever Mother Nature sends our way,” said Superintendent Losquadro. “I want to thank everyone who took the time to come out and take part in this fun, annual tradition.”
After the event, festivalgoers were treated to bagels courtesy of Bagel Lovers and hot chocolate from 7-Eleven and were able to visit the 100 animals that call the Ecology Site home including deer, horses, goats, llamas, hawks and its newest addition, Leo the Lynx. The center, which is open all year-round, also includes greenhouses, gardens, and jogging and exercise trails. For more information, visit www.brookhavenny.gov or call 631-451-5330.