If you’re wondering when the first day of spring will arrive in New Jersey, you may just have to check the weather report. It appears Groundhog Day will face a bit of a delay. Like, a year.
That’s because the New Jersey groundhog who predicts the weather died the day before he was set to make the call.
So RIP, Milltown Mel. We hardly knew ye.
That’s right. Ol’ Mel kicked the bucket, perhaps leaving New Jersians wondering if the snow will ever go away, if the sun will ever shine, if the flowers will ever bloom.
Milltown Mel, of course, was a ripoff of the more popular Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania, who predicts the start of spring each Feb. 2 by emerging from … well, the ground. Whether he sees his shadow indicates when spring will begin. But unlike Mel, Phil’s annual Groundhog Day has been known to draw crowds of up to 20,000, with a celebration and even a cannon blast to mark the event.
But to spring-watchers in Jersey, Mel was The Man. Or The Marmot. Or perhaps more accurately, The Rodent. Either way, he mattered. And now he’s gone.
“We wranglers are sad to report that Milltown Mel recently crossed over the rainbow bridge,” read a post on the groundhog’s Facebook page.
So yes, Milltown had no choice but to scrap Groundhog Day 2022 entirely.
“Considering the average lifespan of a groundhog is about three years, that is not such a shock, but Mel left us at a tough time of year when most of his fellow groundhogs are hibernating,” the post read.
“So no babies will be available to replace him until this Spring. We tried everywhere to get a stand-in, but to no avail.”
We can safely assume that there indeed will be spring in New Jersey. But without Mel or a replacement, how are we to know if it will come before 2023?