New Jersey groundhog dies before his big day: reports

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New Jersey groundhog dies before his big day: reports

[ad_1] Maybe it had something to do with being forever in the shadow of Punxsutawney Phil.Milltown Mel, a New Jersey groundhog who, like his more fa

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Maybe it had something to do with being forever in the shadow of Punxsutawney Phil.

Milltown Mel, a New Jersey groundhog who, like his more famous Pennsylvania counterpart, makes weather predictions every Feb. 2, died recently, just days before Groundhog Day, according to reports.

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Mel “crossed over the rainbow bridge,” the wranglers who take care of him posted on Facebook over the weekend, according to WPIX-TV in New York City. He was about 3 years old.

The crew in Milltown, about 37 miles southwest of the Big Apple, said it was probably too close to Groundhog Day to find a replacement rodent, so they would likely have to skip a ceremony this year, WPIX reported.

“We tried everywhere to get a stand-in, but to no avail,” they wrote on Facebook, according to the report. “On top of that, the county is not currently renting out the big Showmobile stage due to the pandemic, so we would have had that issue as well.”

In this 2020 photo, Groundhog Club co-handler Al Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 134th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. (Associated Press)

In this 2020 photo, Groundhog Club co-handler Al Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 134th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. (Associated Press)

The wranglers have their sights set on a 2023 return, they wrote.

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Aside from Punxsutawney and Milltown, other communities with their own prognosticating critters include Staten Island, New York (Staten Island Chuck aka Charles G. Hogg); Raleigh, North Carolina (Sir Walter Willy); and Balzac, Alberta, Canada (Balzac Billy), the New York Post reported.

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