New ‘Chuckles’ predicts more winter

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Thu., Feb. 7, 2013
 ‘Six more week of winter,’ whispered Chuckles VIII to Mayor Leo Diana. He was the only one in Manchester who spoke ‘groundhog-ese.’ Photos by Jennifer Coe.
‘Six more week of winter,’ whispered Chuckles VIII to Mayor Leo Diana. He was the only one in Manchester who spoke ‘groundhog-ese.’ Photos by Jennifer Coe.

Contradicting the forecast made in Pennsylvania by Punxsutawney Phil, Connecticut’s own groundhog, “Chuckles VIII,” is predicting six more weeks of winter.

Chuckles made her momentous announcement on Saturday, Feb. 2, to about 100 people gathered early in the morning at the Lutz Children’s Museum. Not very keen to be the center of attention, Chuckles had to be gently drawn out of her man-made “hole” on the Lutz’s stage by a museum worker.

The morning of her big announcement, Chuckles was introduced to Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who was visibly tickled to be conducting such a jovial ceremony. After Wyman “swore in” the new groundhog on a copy of “The Farmer’s Almanac,” Chuckles’ first weather prediction was announced: six more weeks of winter.

Mayor Leo Diana - being the only one in town who speaks “groundhog-ese” -announced that Chuckles told him she had seen her shadow. While the kids were happy to have a few more weeks to sled and play in the snow, parents moaned at the thought of more potential snow days.

A female groundhog, Chuckles came to the museum at the tender age of five weeks, after being found wandering alone in a parking lot. “That’s too young to be without a parent,” said Rachel Hadyka, a museum employee who works with the animals. “She’s the most active groundhog we have ever had.”

Since being in rehabilitation at the museum, Chuckles has also had some dental issues. Unfortunately, her top two teeth had to be removed. Normally, groundhogs use their top teeth to grind down their bottom teeth, as they never stop growing. But since she had her top teeth removed, employees at the museum have to regularly cut back her bottom teeth. It doesn’t affect her eating though, Hadyka said. “She eats bananas, peanuts and grapes,” she said.

Hadyka added that out of the seven other “Chuckles” the museum has housed over the years, “Chuckles VIII” is one of the friendliest and most outgoing groundhogs.

The annual Lutz program began at 6:30 a.m. on Groundhog Day, and included a reception with coffee and breakfast foods.


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