Governments' Lighter Side

Groundhogs, prophecies and bleeding ears

We all know what it means when the groundhog sees its shadow, but what does it mean when the prophetic rodent bites down on the mayors ear?

Sun Prairie, Wis., will soon find out, we guess. During the small town’s Feb 2. ceremony, Jimmy the groundhog was held up to Mayor Jonathan Freund’s ear to whisper his prediction (only the mayor can translate the groundhog’s forecast, you see.) As the mayor leaned in close, Jimmy chomped down. The mayor flinched and pulled away, but declared the groundhog predicted an early spring, according to the Journal Sentinel.

However, there is some controversy over the forecast. One of Jimmy’s caretakers, Jerry Hahn, told local TV station News 3 the mayor must have misheard Jimmy. The critter actually did see his shadow, meaning there will be six more weeks of winter. He added that since this was the mayor’s first time interpreting, he might have been confused.

After some back and forth the city issued a statement to settle the controversy. "While tradition holds that only the mayor can translate Jimmy’s prediction and that a clear sky generally means Jimmy sees his shadow and that winter will go on for six more weeks, the mayor’s translation this morning was clearly for an early spring. The break with tradition is unusual, but not unprecedented."

So there you have it. Winter will soon be over in Sun Prairie, and the mayor may need to ice a swollen ear. And Groundhog Day lives on as one of America’s most bizarre traditions.


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What's Governments' Lighter Side?

It is an irreverent take on local and state government news.


Derek Prall

Derek Prall is a professional journalist who has held numerous positions with a variety of print and online publications including The Public Manager magazine and the New Jersey Herald. He is a 2008...
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