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Waldo the groundhog predicts early spring

Groundhog Club celebrates 105th anniversary

Feb. 6, 2013

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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Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

Rotary Pancake Day: 7:30 a.m. Feb. 28, Waukesha County Expo Center, 1000 Northview Road, Waukesha. Fundraiser for the Waukesha Rotary Club is 7:30 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Expo Center Arena. Advance tickets at Waukesha State Bank, downtown location., $5-$7. $5 advance, $7 at the door; free for children 5 and younger. www.waukesharotary.org.

Ninth Annual Oconomowoc Rotary Wine & Brew Fest: 5 p.m. Feb. 28, Olympia Resort, 1350 Royale Mile Rd, Oconomowoc. Wine, food and beer. Features foods from the best of our local restaurants. Purchase tickets at $50 from an O-Town Rotarian, through Facebook, or in person at most area First Bank Financial Centre locations, Books & Company & Lorleberg True Value Hardware. See more at www.oconomowocrotary.org. $50.

Chili Tasting: 11 a.m. Feb. 28, The Garden Mart, W297 S9115 Highway 83, Mukwonago. Chili tasting from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Local vendors will be selling unique merchandise. Judging is open to the public and all proceeds from voting will be donated to the Mukwonago Food Pantry. Event is free. Call (262) 363-5252 for information.

Dr. Seuss Birthday Bash Literacy Event: 10 a.m. Feb. 28, Hartland North Elementary, 232 Church Street, Hartland. Families with children in 4-year old kindergarten through second grade are invited to a special event. The Cat in the Hat and the Lorax will celebrate with a big birthday cake for all of our guests along with lots of literacy activities based around Dr. Seuss books.

Updates to this calendar are made weekly Monday afternoon. 

 

All weekend happenings.