FRENCH CREEK – During the 46th Annual Groundhog Day Celebration, locals gathered at the West Virginia Wildlife Center Thursday to learn whether or not French Creek Freddie would see his shadow.
Legend has it that the presence of a shadow foretells a weather forecast of an additional six weeks of winter, while the absence of a shadow means an early spring will come to Upshur County.
With no shadow in sight, French Creek Freddie is happy to report that spring is coming soon!
To kick off this fun celebration, the French Creek Elementary School choir serenaded Freddie and visitors with groundhog-themed melodies to warm the hearts of all in attendance. The staff of the Wildlife Center awarded certificates to the youngest and oldest guests as well as those celebrating a Groundhog Day birthday.
A few fun facts about groundhogs were shared just before the countdown to Freddie’s arrival:
- Nicknames for groundhogs include, but are not limited to, “whistle pig” and “woodchuck.”
- Groundhogs are a member of the rodent family.
- Baby groundhogs are sometimes called “chucklings” and are born in litters of 4-9 chucklings at a time.
- Their teeth never stop growing, so that’s why they’re always seen chewing on things.
- Groundhogs can grow to be as large as 15 pounds.
- Groundhogs can eat up to 2 pounds of vegetation per day during the summer months.
The celebration did not stop after Freddie’s prediction, as guests were encouraged to take photos with Freddie, participate in Project Wild activities and visit the gift shop for cookies, hot cocoa and other yummy refreshments. A woodchucking contest soon followed with prizes for the winners.
“The energy today was great,” said Trevor Moore, wildlife biologist with the West Virginia Wildlife Center. “We had two elementary school classes here; they were our little ‘Groundhog Nation’ with their cool signs and helped amp the energy up.”
This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the West Virginia Wildlife Center. To honor such a milestone, Moore suggests the public be on the lookout for more events coming to the Wildlife Center throughout 2023.
“We want the public to come here and have positive and fun experiences, especially with families, and come back to learn about wildlife and nature,” Moore said.
Learn more about the West Virginia Wildlife Center on its website or call 304-924-6211.