S.I. Chuck Calls for Early Spring

Chuck shoots down Punxsutawney Phil's prediction

By Jennifer Millman
|  Tuesday, Feb 2, 2010  |  Updated 12:31 PM EDT
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Staten Island's groundhog and Punxsatawney Phil have a difference of opinions.

Staten Island's groundhog and Punxsatawney Phil have a difference of opinions.

Photos and Videos

Sue's Impression of "Staten Island Chuck" on Eve of Groundhog's Day

Staten Island Chuck came to News 4 to meet Sue

Punxsutawney Phil Makes His Prediction

Punxsutawney Phil made that prediction Tuesday morning after seeing his shadow at gobbler's knob.
More Photos and Videos

Who is the ultimate prognosticator? Long-time printemps predictor Punxsutawney Phil or hometown under-hog, Chuck, from Staten Island?

We'll find out in a few weeks.

Staten Island's famous groundhog Chuck called for an early spring this year as crowds of bedazzled spectators chanted his name and urged him out of his hole.

"No shadow," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said of the renowned animal, whose full name is Charles G. Hogg. "Spring is coming."

Punxsutawney Phil disagreed, fleeing back into his wintry nest in Pennsylvania this morning as the crowd jeered in response to his chilly prediction.

Unlike last year, Chuck was on his best behavior today, remaining calm and collected as onlookers gathered at the Staten Island Zoo to await his prophetic word.

Bearing the battle scar he earned last February when Chuck nipped his finger, Bloomberg praised the animal for coming out of his hole to issue a long-awaited proclamation of spring. 

"I think I have to be magnanimous and say that he put up a good fight," Bloomberg said after Chuck finally emerged from his hole. "Last year, I was willing to put that finger, right here, in the way to protect the people of this great borough. The only thing that stood between Chuck and you getting bitten was my finger and I have a scar to prove exactly how much I love one off the five best boroughs we have."

It was one of the coldest boroughs, too, Tuesday morning, with no indication of spring around the corner. Temperatures were in the mid-20s and forecasters predicted about an inch of snow overnight with another possible storm on Friday. For the most accurate outlook, always check NBCNewYork.com's weather page.

Phil did have some company in his blustery prediction, however.

Both Long Island groundhogs, Holtsville Hal and Malverne Mel, sided with the legendary hog. A few of the 150-some people gathered at the ceremony booed as Hal and Mel ran from their shivering shadows, but Malverne's mayor found the bright side.

"I'd rather have an early spring, but I guess it's nice for people who like winter sports," Mayor Patricia Norris-McDonald told Newsday

Groundhog Day originated in the late 19th century. About 39 percent of the animals' predictions are accurate, experts say.

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