Source: News & Observer
If you distrust the latest forecast from the perennial spring predictor and crepuscular yankee prognosticator, Punxsutawney Phil, his 2024 forecast of an early spring was corroborated by NC’s own Sylvia the Armadillo. Sylvia has served as the Apex’s Groundhog’s Day mascot for four years, according to reporting by The News & Observer, and was volunteered for the position by the Animal Edventures Sanctuary due to a shortage of groundhogs.
According to local reporting, Snerd the Groundhog of Garner, NC is the only active groundhog actively predicting on Groundhog’s Day in North Carolina but other brave creatures such as Sylvie the Armadillo and Pisgah Penny, a white squirrel from Brevard, have stepped up to bring spring predictions to the Tarheel State.
According to The Library of Congress, the tradition of Groundhogs Day was likely carried into America in the 1700s by German immigrants to Pennsylvania who transferred Celtic myths about badgers predicting the end of Winter to North American groundhogs predicting the start of Spring. Folklorist Don Yoder has traced the oldest, specific mention of Groundhog’s Day celebrations to February 2nd, 1840, when a Welsh-American shopkeeper in Pennsylvania penned in his diary “Today the Germans say the groundhog comes out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he returns in and remains there 40 days.”
The famed Punxsutawney Groundhog’s Day was established 47 years later in 1887 when members of the Punxsutawney Elks Club climbed Gobbler’s Knob to bother a local groundhog about the end of winter. By the 1960s the silly observance had snowballed into a national phenomenon, equal parts fervent and comedic, that included a presumably immortal groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil and a cabal of suit and tophat wearing supporters called “The Inner Circle” who have consulted America’s most famous woodchuck every February 2nd for 138 years.
On the same day in North Carolina, Apex mayor Jacques Gilbert hoisted Sylvie the Armadillo at the Olive Chapel Elementary School to the tune of “Circle of Life” and announced that “spring is around soon.” Snerd the Groundhog also failed to find his shadow in Garner but Pisgah Penny dissented with a declaration of a late Spring and a Kansas City Chiefs win at Super Bowl LVIII.
And if you’re still undecided on the current season you can always leave your burrow (house) and check your shadow (local weather app) for yourself.