A Groundhog Day tradition

GroundHogDay2015By Roger Gissemann, Youth Services Associate Division Director

Youth Services celebrated its 17th Annual Groundhog Day event yesterday. It started years ago because the staff felt that the day never got much attention. So why not celebrate it?

Salt Lake County Animal Services has participated over the years by sending Animal Control Officers to provide training for youth on how to be safe around or handling animals – especially wild animals like Groundhogs. They also assist our staff and youth in helping Phil from his tree stump.

Youth Services Associate Division Director, Rogers Gisseman, has called the celebration to order since the beginning with his famous didgeridoo. The youth challenge the staff to a Groundhog trivia quiz and have won 100% of the 17 quizzes to date. Some of the activities include singing Groundhog songs, tunes played with kazoos, and dance performances. A coloring contest is also open to all youth and staff with prizes awarded for submissions. Refreshments for all is the fitting end to a busy morning of celebrating after Phil makes his long awaited appearance and predicts whether or not the winter weather is over. It is a great Youth Services tradition and staff look forward to it every year.

Some history
Groundhog Day is celebrated every year on February 2nd and marks the transition from winter to spring. As the story goes, if the Groundhog leaves his den and sees his shadow, it’s both a sunny day and a sign that we’re in for six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, winter will end soon. The holiday started in old European tales about weather and began as a Pennsylvania Dutch celebration in the 18th and 19th century. Today it’s celebrated all across the country, though its largest gathering takes place in Punxsutawney, PA, and was the setting for the 1993 Bill Murray movie, “Groundhog Day.” After the release of the movie people flocked to Punxsutawney by the thousands, to watch the famous Punxsutawney Phil, make his annual prediction.

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