TIME animals

3 Times Groundhog Day Went Terribly Wrong

Groundhog gaffes that will definitely make you cringe

Correction appended, February 1, 2016

Feb. 2 is Groundhog Day, the annual holiday in which Americans allow animals to “predict” the length of winter, based on whether or not they see their shadows.

Some ceremonies have been more eventful than others in recent years. Here, NewsFeed looks back at a few mishaps that threatened to cast a shadow over the tradition.

• On Groundhog Day 2009, New York City’s traditional fortune-telling groundhog, known as “Staten Island Chuck,” bit Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s left hand as the politician tried to lure him with an ear of corn. The rodent was a little camera shy, so it took the food and brought it back into its enclosure. When it still wouldn’t come out, Bloomberg put both hands around its belly and dragged it out of its wooden shelter. The then-mayor, who had been wearing black leather gloves, appeared at an event later that day with a bandage over his left index finger, the New York Times reported.

• Scandal struck after Groundhog Day 2014, when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio lost his grip on “Charlotte,” the female stand-in for Chuck. A week later, she died of “internal injuries,” but the death wasn’t reported until seven months later by the New York Post. For Groundhog Day 2015, plexiglass separated the Democrat and the rodent. This year, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will stand in for de Blasio.

• On Groundhog Day 2015 in Sun Prairie, Wis., Jimmy the Groundhog bit Mayor Jonathan Freund’s ear as it “leaned in” to “whisper” his prediction of an early spring. Watch below:

This year, all eyes will be on famed Pennsylvania groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. Let’s hope everything goes as planned.

Correction: The original version of this article misidentified Kathy Hochul’s office. She’s the Lieutenant Governor of New York.

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team