Wantage groundhog predicts early spring


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  • Assemblyman Parker Space holds Stonewall Jackson V. Sussex County's weather-predicting groundhog disagreed with the world-famous Punxsutawney Phil predicting an early spring.



Space Farms' groundhog, Stonewall Jackson V, vehemently disagreed with the world famous Punxsutawney Phil on Thursday morning. Where Punxsutawney predicted six more weeks of winter, Stonewall did not, forecasting an early spring.

“When I took him out this morning for his radio interview at 8 a.m., he did not see his shadow,” said Assemblyman Parker Space, owner of Space Farms, on Thursday. “So this means it will be an early spring. Space Farms has been doing this each year for about 25 years.” Except for last year.

Last year, Space went to get Stonewall Jackson IV out of hibernation the day before Groundhog Day only to find that he had passed away. “He had a long life for a groundhog, they usually live three to six years, and had come through with a Groundhog Day prediction for seven years. We were hoping to get one more year out of him, but I guess it wasn't in the cards," Space said.

This year, his successor, Stonewall Jackson V was ready to go having been “nurtured in the art of weather predicting” The Groundhog Day prediction was started by Space's father who also came up with the name of Stonewall Jackson for the groundhog.

At the Staten Island Zoo, groundhog Staten Island Chuck agreed with Stonewall. At Turtle Back Zoo, in West Orange, NJ, Essex Ed emerged on Thursday afternoon to the site of... his shadow. Ed concurred with Punxsutawney Phil about winter persisting for six more weeks. Ed is also somewhat of a soothsayer as he also predicts the winner of the Super Bowl. This year, he predicted that the Atlantic Falcons would defeat the New England Patriots.

.According to folklore, if it is cloudy when the groundhog emerges from its burrow, winter-like weather will soon end, but if it is sunny and the groundhog sees its shadow, winter weather will continue for six more weeks.

In southern Texas, it isn't a groundhog who makes the prediction about spring: it's an alligator named Big Al. The 14-foot, 1,000-pound alligator's prediction is one of the most scientifically based as alligators are genetically unable to eat until all danger of winter's freeze has passed. If Big Al eats, spring is coming soon. Using his favorite food—Kentucky Fried Chicken — his handler tempted Al on Thursday, but he passed on the chicken, predicting six more weeks of winter.

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