groundhog

Punxsutawney Phil in 2018.

Masses of people flocked to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on Sunday to witness popular groundhog Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction for the remainder of winter. 

Although every year thousands of people wait to see whether or not Phil will see his shadow, the beloved groundhog may soon be replaced.

A letter was sent to The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club by PETA, urging it to retire the famous groundhog on Jan. 28. The letter, signed by PETA president Ingrid Newkirk, states that an “AI [Artificial Intelligence] Phil would renew interest in Punxsutawney” and would relieve Phil’s stress.

Many people do not know there is also a weather-loving groundhog in West Virginia that has yet to receive PETA's attention.

About an hour south of Morgantown, French Creek Freddie resides at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center in French Creek, and many West Virginians pay attention to whether French Creek Freddie will predict better weather. 

Raimah Hossain, a sophomore biomedical engineering student and West Virginia native, is wary of both famous groundhogs.

“I think Groundhog Day is a pretty arbitrary, yet simultaneously interesting, holiday,” Hossain said. “I’m not sure how much I believe in the tale associated with it, but it’s a nice way to usher in the ending weeks of winter.”

She also explained her limited knowledge of French Creek Freddie.

“I have heard of French Creek Freddie in passing before because he dictates the decision for Groundhog Day for our state,” Hossain said. “I’m not sure if Freddie really promotes celebration in West Virginia or Morgantown just because I don’t know if he is widely known.”

For more than 100 years, the tradition has continued to expand and has become a widely celebrated national holiday.

However, because WVU students are unaware of the West Virginia’s own groundhog, many students do not celebrate this holiday, Hossain said. 

“I think WVU’s current traditions could be aligned with the holiday because people really love any reason to celebrate any occasion,” Hossain said.