Milltown A groundhog known for his Groundhog Day forecasts, Mel, has died, according to his caretakers. Their search for a replacement rodent before February 2 was useless, they claim because Mel “just went over the rainbow bridge.
Mel became a local celebrity in Milltown, New Jersey, where he advised homeowners on the best time to plant their spring seeds. But he died at a time when “most of his fellow groundhogs are hibernating,” according to his managers, the Milltown Wranglers, who care for him.
The Wranglers promised to “work hard” to find a new weather forecaster for the upcoming year and urged New Jersey residents to “check out what all of Mel’s cousins have to say” regarding the impending end of the cold season.
In 2016, Sussex County’s prognosticator Stonewall Jackson passed away on Groundhog Eve, which is not just a Groundhog Day coincidence.
Due to the pandemic, Mel was quarantined for Groundhog Day last year. His hamlet sits about halfway between Trenton and Newark and he predicted an early spring despite that.
“Yay!!! Groundhogs don’t come much more beloved than Mel. an admirer wrote on social media site Facebook about rodents.
Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous Groundhog Day character in the United States, lives in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Season-predicting animals in other parts of the country include Mel’s New York City neighbors Dunkirk Dave and Staten Island Chuck and Marion, Ohio’s Buckeye Chuck.
Early spring or late winter predictions can be made by consulting a rodent, a practice that can be traced back to the Christian holiday of Candlemas, which itself has pagan origins.
A Celtic feast, Candlemas marks the season’s midway. This is the halfway point between the winter solstice and the beginning of spring.
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