Beaver-themed hats and ‘groundhog food’: Crowd welcomes Shubenacadie Sam’s spring prediction

Groundhog predicts an early spring for Nova Scotia

3 min read
A groundhog mascot holds a young child
caption Shubenacadie Sam (the mascot) holds 10-month-old Harvey at Groundhog Day celebrations Friday
Megan James

Three generations of the Brown family came to the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park Friday to see if Shubenacadie Sam would see her shadow. Nova Scotia’s celebrity groundhog didn’t disappoint.

Amy Brown was accompanied by her parents and her own two young boys. Bundled up in beaver-themed hats, the Browns were excited to see Sam.

“They didn’t sleep a wink last night, especially the 10-month-old,” said Brown jokingly. “He was tossing and turning all night.”

Despite the snowfall hours after Sam’s prediction, “Sam did not see her shadow, which is an indication that spring is on its way,” said Andrew Boyne, director of wildlife for Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources and Renewables.

Brown and her two-year-old son, Casey, read “Groundhog Night: Shubenacadie Sam’s Shadow” by Doretta Groenendyk, in preparation for the event. The Browns are frequent visitors to the park.

Amy’s mother, Barb Brown, was as excited about the event as the children.

“I haven’t been to a Groundhog Day in about two decades,” Barb said. “It used to be only about 15 to 20 people,” she said, looking at the crowd of more than 50 people. The grandmother also came prepared with her own “groundhog food” — gummy worms — and made sure to offer some to the Shubenacadie Sam mascot, who moved through the crowd, taking pictures with her fans.

Shubenacadie Sam resting after making her prediction
caption Sam rests in the corner of her enclosure after predicting an early spring.
Megan James

At 8 a.m., the crowd quieted, awaiting Sam’s appearance. Knowing the audience was waiting, Sam took her time to emerge. As Feb. 2 is the biggest day of Sam’s year, there is pressure to perform.

Boyne bought Sam some time by saying she was “more keen to stay in the warm den” because “groundhogs are the only mammal that truly hibernates in Nova Scotia.”

The crowd appeared understanding and respected Sam’s slow approach to the winter morning.

Boyne explained Sam comes from a long line of weather-predicting groundhogs, most of which have previously lived at the park.

Boyne also addressed some of the speculations surrounding Sam’s success rate with past predictions.

“Shubenacadie Sam is never wrong, but sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate,” said Boyne, earning a laugh from the crowd.

Boyne said he was honoured to be part of Sam’s presentation. “I came here as a kid, I used to bring my own kids here.”

Some Dalhousie University students spent their day off with Sam as well.

Emma White was glad to attend the event.

“I’m from the area, but I’ve never been,” she said.

White brought her friend, Leah Kaugh, to the park, spreading the love for Sam. Kaugh quickly defended Sam when asked about her reliability.

“Don’t blame the groundhog!” she said.

Children taking pictures with Shubenacadie Sam, the mascot.
caption The mascot takes pictures with Casey, Harvey and their father Cole MacDonell.
Megan James

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About the author

Megan James

Megan is a bachelor of journalism student from Enfield, Nova Scotia.

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