CUMBERLAND — With a half-foot of snow on the ground and a cold wind whipping, Western Maryland Murray predicted six more weeks of winter Tuesday morning.
The groundhog, who resides at the Tri-State Zoological Park, hasn’t been wrong yet in his 14 years of prognosticating the weather, Cumberland Mayor Raymond Morriss said while reading from a proclamation honoring Western Maryland Murray and his handler, Bob Candy, during a scaled-back ceremony at City Hall.
That’s “a remarkable and prodigious feat unequaled by man or animal,” Morriss said, joking that “unlike that other animal up in some other little town, our guy is always right.”
Murray’s counterpart, Punxsutawney Phil, also saw his shadow Tuesday in Pennsylvania.
Murray is “a true American, a well-rounded Mountain Marylander and noteworthy resident, who has repeatedly demonstrated his extraordinary knowledge of atmospheric conditions and seasonal changes with his annual weather predictions,” Morriss said.
Councilman Eugene Frazier read a poem he’d written for the occasion and first presented during last year’s celebration, titled “The Fear,” that opened by describing a cold and windy Groundhog Day morning not unlike the one the small crowd stood in during the early hours Tuesday.
“As he disappears from out of sight, there comes a realization to light,” Frazier read. “Due to the fright of this little ball of fur, six more weeks of winter will occur. This is something we’ve noticed for years: the weather is based upon his fears.”
Frazier’s poem foreshadowed Western Maryland Murray’s prediction.
Roused from the comfort of his blankets by zoo owner Candy, Murray emerged with a little kick, but not much protest. The two consulted before Candy, translating for Murray, told Morriss that the furry prognosticator predicts more cold weather to come.
“He says he’s very sorry to have to tell us we’re in for a full winter this year,” Morriss said.
Groundhog Day is a tradition in the United States and Canada. Originating with the Pennsylvania Dutch, the superstition says if the groundhog emerges from his burrow and sees his shadow, he will retreat and winter will persist for six more weeks. If the groundhog does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.