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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:  

Delafield Block Party: 5 p.m.-12 a.m. July 10, 11, Downtown Delafield. Festival features food and music plus specialty brews and wine. Friday entertainment is The Orphans and The Toys. Saturday hear Up All Night and Rhythm Method. www.chamber.visitdelafield.org

Lake Country Art Festival: 9 a.m. July 11, Naga-Waukee Park, 651 State Road 83, Delafield. The Lake Country Art Festival features more than 100 juried artists from jewelry, paintings, photography, fiber crafts and metal artists. Children’s activities tent, silent auction, entertainment and food services provided by Delafield Brewhaus. There is a $5 donation per carload for parking with all money raised going to local charities and scholarships to graduating seniors.

Sussex Lions Days: July 10-12, Sussex Village Park. Annual event features carnival rides, live music, sport tournaments, sheepshead tournament, bingo, food and beverage booths, pony and camel rides and tractor pull. Fireworks Friday night. Parade at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. www.sussexlions.org

Annual Oconomowoc Arts Center Open House: 6 p.m. July 11, Oconomowoc Arts Center, 641 E. Forest St., Oconomowoc. Tom Klubertanz and Andy Zietlow will entertain visitors. Free brats, burgers and hot dogs. Local dance and community service groups will be on hand in the lobby with informational tables. Check out the 2015-16 season line up and take advantage of discounts for early ticket purchases.

Updates to this calendar are made weekly Monday afternoon. 

All weekend happenings

 

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