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Wednesday

August 2014

27

Waldo the groundhog predicts early spring

Groundhog Club celebrates 105th anniversary

Waukesha - Once again, the Wildlife In Need Center's infamous weather prognosticating groundhog, Waldo, has emerged from his burrow as a hero with a promise of something to look forward to during a long Wisconsin winter. Who knew the whims of a willful woodchuck would bring a smile to so many?

About 100 people of all ages let out a resounding cheer when Waldo failed to see his shadow during the Milwaukee Groundhog Club's annual Groundhog Day celebration on Feb. 2 at the Waukesha Elks Lodge. And according to Groundhog Day lore - spring is most certainly just around the corner.

The Milwaukee Groundhog Club has been celebrating Groundhog Day for 105 years and was in danger of canceling its 100th anniversary festivities when its former mascot, Walnut, from the Milwaukee County Zoo suddenly died. When the Wildlife In Need Center (WINC) in the Town of Ottawa found out about the club's woes, the wildlife rehabilitation center did what it does best. It came to the rescue - offering its resident groundhog as the star of the club's event.

Five years later, the Milwaukee Groundhog Club and WINC continue to join forces to bring a little whimsy in the middle of winter. Dressed smartly in top hat and tux, Richard Perschon, 76, of Pewaukee has been a member of the club for 14 years and is "keeper of the burrow."

On Feb. 2, 1908, two gentlemen were chatting in the barbershop in the old Blatz Hotel in downtown Milwaukee when they discovered they were both celebrating their birthdays that day. They both knew other friends who were also celebrating Groundhog Day birthdays and decided to form the Milwaukee Groundhog Club. The only condition for membership is the member must be born on Feb. 2.

"We're all so excited to see what Waldo will do. Every year we gather together for this event and every year more and more people join in on the fun. And we are so grateful for the Wildlife In Need Center," said Perschon.

This year the Wildlife In Need Center added to the celebration with an open house. Guests had the opportunity to visit with Waldo, as well as 10 other animal ambassadors from WINC, including Dakota the great horned owl.

The Pledge

We believe in the wisdom of our groundhog, Waldo. We declare his intelligence. We rejoice that he can, and does, foretell with absolute accuracy the exact weather conditions for the six weeks following each Feb. 2.

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