HOPE — The town of Hope will strike up the band for its annual Groundhog Day ceremony.

For the first time, the Hauser High School Band will perform during the 8:30 a.m. ceremony Feb. 2, in front of the Hope Town Square bandstand, town manager J.T. Doane said.

While organizers say the student musicians will be a new and exciting addition, the main attraction will again be Grubby the Groundhog hoisted up to determine if a shadow is visible.

Experience has taught Grubby, who is now 4, to graciously tolerate the disruption of her winter hibernation, according to her handler, Kathy Hershey of Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitators.

Grubby is expected to be on her best behavior while carrying out her role as mythical weather prognosticator, said Hershey, who also serves as Grubby’s interpreter.

If the original concept for the northeast Bartholomew County celebration had been carried out, the Hauser band’s repertoire might include “I’ve Got You, Babe” (Sonny and Cher) or “Weatherman” (Delbert McClinton).

Both songs were featured in the 1993 fantasy-comedy film “Groundhog Day,” which has a satirical quality that organizers in Hope initially wanted to emulate.

But by the time Grubby made her weather predicting debut in 2015, the town decided against playing everything for laughs.

With Hope’s well-recognized respect for history and tradition, organizers also decided against lampooning the Feb. 2 observance in Gobbler’s Knob, located in west-central Pennsylvania, Doane said.

However, if you enjoy a kindhearted parody, the 2,100 residents of Hope are happy to accommodate.

Gobbler’s Knob, as in the nearby town of Punxsutawney, is the setting for the 1993 movie, where a few jabs are taken at the four men presiding over the ceremony. Dressed in tails and top hats, the four are collectively known as the Inner Circle.

While the groundhog overseers in Hope (David Miller, David Webster, Chuck Baker and Michael Dean) may wear similar attire, they’ve adopted a far different name: Grubby’s Groupies.

Grubby can boast of one thing that Punxsutawney Phil can’t — accuracy.

“No shadow she sees. The groundhog has spoken. The winter’s long spell will shortly be broken,” Miller told about 80 cheering spectators in front of the Hope bandstand last year.

When temperatures shot up into the 60s the following week and remained moderate, Grubby was proven right. In contrast, Phil’s 39 percent accuracy record wasn’t helped when he was proven wrong again last year.

Since early February temperatures are usually quite cold, efforts are made to keep the outdoor ceremony brief before the well-bundled crowd moves into Willow Leaves on the north side of the square for warmth, free coffee and tea, light refreshments and socializing.

But for Grubby, the show must — and does — go on. Both she and Hershey will take center stage again that morning at Hope Elementary School. That’s where youngsters seem fascinated when they learn such facts that a groundhog and woodchuck are the same thing — and both are nothing more than a gigantic squirrel, Hershey said.

Grubby also will make an indoor and outdoor presentation on Groundhog’s Day at the Just Friends Adult Day Care Services, located within Mill Race Center near 8th and Lindsey streets in Columbus.

A Grubby Job

Ceremonial request made during the annual Groundhog Day celebration in the Hope Town Square.

”Grubby — awake from your slumber and tell us the news. If your shadow you see, six more weeks of the blues. If no shadow in sight, then we shall rejoice. Spring will be soon. Oh, tell us your choice.”

If you go

What: Annual Groundhog Day ceremony

Where: In front of the bandstand on the northeast side of the Hope Town Square.

When: 8:30 a.m. Feb. 2

Reception: Immediately following the brief ceremony at Willow Leaves of Hope, 326 Jackson St.

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.