By Ella French
Milltown Mel, a weather-predicting Groundhog from the state of New Jersey, passed away suddenly just one day before his big day: Groundhog Day. Every February 2 in the United States and Canada, there is an annual tradition where the shadow of a groundhog is used to predict when spring is going to arrive. This tradition has been going on since the 1880’s. The weather prediction is determined by if the groundhog sees his shadow, winter will last longer, and if it does not see his shadow, spring is on the way. This tradition has never been proven to be truthful or effective; it is more of a fun and superstitious way to predict the weather.
Just days before Milltown Mel was set to make his prediction, he suddenly died. According to NBC News, Milltown Mel’s wranglers reported, “We wranglers are sad to report that Milltown Mel recently crossed over the rainbow bridge.” Milltown Mel was believed to be around 3 years old at the time of his death, although it has not been confirmed. So you may be wondering how Milltown Mel died. The truth is, the cause of death has not been confirmed. According to the Washington Post,” The wranglers added that the celebrity marmot’s death was ‘not such a shock’ because of the relatively short life span of a groundhog, but his death was nonetheless untimely. Most other groundhogs are hibernating, leaving the group without a viable understudy.” Some speculate that it could be due to his age, although he was very young for a groundhog in captivity to die. Since Milltown Mel died at a strange time of year, when groundhogs are hibernating, we all must wonder what was the true cause of his death?
There is some speculation that Milltown Mel’s death is a bad omen for the weather ahead. Will we have an extremely long, cold and bitter winter? Or will Milltown Mel’s death give us a beautiful and flourishing spring? Only time will tell from here on out. Milltown Mel will have a replacement next year on Groundhog Day, but his years of prediction will always be remembered.