Manitoba Merv, a groundhog of the stuffed variety (having expired some time ago from old age), will be the focus of festivities at the Interpretive Centre, located 20 minutes north of Winnipeg.
Those wacky folks at Oak Hammock Marsh, subscribing to the belief that a groundhog doesn't necessarily have to be alive to cast a shadow, invite the public out on Saturday to discover how this rotund rodent predicts the weather, and whether it's safe for Manitobans to put away the shovel.
"In the past we had a live groundhog brought out by the Manitoba Wildlife Rehabilitation Organization that spent the day with us," says Cathy Shaluk, the centre's visitor services co-ordinator. "But unfortunately he passed away last winter and what we are using now is a stuffed groundhog that will still be making the predictions for Groundhog Day and he will come out on the morning of Feb. 2 to see whether he can see his shadow and we'll make the prediction from there."
In conjunction with Groundhog festivities, Oak Hammock presents the Groundhog Snow Golf Tournament on Sunday, Feb. 3 from 1 to 4 p.m. Families are invited to demonstrate their golf skills on Oak Hammock's frozen golf course and bring along your wackiest clubs to enter the Wacky Club Contest.
Plus, you can take in some groundhog crafts, snowshoeing, jam-pail curling, and enjoy some hot chocolate and bannock by the fire.
Groundhog Day evolved from the pagan celebration of Imbolc, according to the Stormfax Weather Almanac. The celebration was adapted in Christian times to Candlemas Day and observed every Feb. 2, the mid-point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. On this day, Europeans used to watch for the shadow of a groundhog to predict spring's arrival. Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow, winter will last for another six weeks. This tradition carried on with the arrival of settlers in the New World, where groundhogs were found in abundance.
If you prefer to consult actual human beings as opposed to furry rodents, Environment Canada says the average high for Groundhog Day is -12.5 C and the average low is -23.2 C, according to meteorologist Mike McDonald.
So let's keep our fingers crossed for an early spring. And if it's not in the cards, well, this is Manitoba after all!
Admission to Oak Hammock Marsh is $4, with students and seniors admitted for $3, or you can take advantage of the family rate of $14.
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Let's do our spring cleaning in January and February this year. We all have clothes we no longer wear. They sit in our closets feeling very unwanted when somebody, somewhere would be ecstatic to have them. These could be items such as business suits, blazers, blouses, vests, dresses, pants and sweaters that would be suitable for business attire.
Employment Projects of Winnipeg, a non-profit organization, located at 990-167 Lombard Ave., are currently taking donations of suitable business attire that has been cleaned and is in good condition. Your donation will benefit their clients who participate in the Day of Caring event, sponsored by the United Way, to be held on Feb. 14. Any unselected items will be given to The Clothes Closet and women's shelters. All donors will be put into a draw for a prize at the Day of Caring event. For more information call 949-5300.
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Are you interested in musical theatre and want some helpful tips? The Manitoba Conservatory of Music & Arts is holding a Musical Theatre Masterclass on Sunday, Feb. 3 from 3 to 5 p.m. Margery Koop, an experienced performer, choral conductor, voice teacher and adjudicator, is the clinician for this masterclass. To register call 943-6090.
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Know of someone or something interesting in your community? Give reporter Karen Wade a call at 697-7303, or send a fax to Community Review at 697-7370.
PHOTO MIKE DEAL/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS