Quogue Library Groundhog Day Event Returns Thursday

Groundhog Day
Quigley predicting an early spring at a previous Groundhog Day ceremony, Photo: Courtesy Quogue Library

Quogue’s weather-forecasting rodent is breezing back into town Thursday for Groundhog Day after taking last year off — but he no longer goes by the name Quigley.

Sam Champion — the groundhog, who is not to be confused with the WABC-TV weatherman of the same name — will be at the Quogue Library for an after-school program and to let everyone know if the last six weeks of winter will be more stormy or spring-like.

“His real name is Sam Champion,” said Lori Ketcham, director of the nonprofit Save the Animals Rescue (STAR) Foundation in Middle Island, which takes care of Sam Champion and has another groundhog named Al Roker. “He sometimes appears under a stage name. We just felt if they are the predictors of the weather, they should have weather-predictor names.”

When he was known as Quogue Quigley, the woodchuck didn’t see his shadow — meaning a prediction of an early spring— four times between his 2018 debut and 2021. The library canceled his 2022 appearance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ketcham noted that only the groundhog handler Tim can touch Sam Champion, as the critters can be temperamental. Staten Island Chuck once infamously but former Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“If the woodchuck is not in the mood, we will listen to them through the cage,” she said.

The STAR Foundation rescued and rehabilitated both Al Roker and Sam Champion after they were found sick and separated from their mothers as pups, but they proved unable to fend for themselves in the wild and now call the rescue home.

Ketcham recalled that when they tried to release Sam Champion, he started screaming and running back after the rescuers, demonstrating why groundhogs are also known as whistle pigs.

“They make some really weird noises,” she said.

The public is invited to learn more about groundhogs during the STAR Foundation lesson following Sam Champion’s prediction. Participants can also make Groundhog Day crafts, enjoy treats and watch a screening of the movie Groundhog Day.

This year will also include a new East End groundhog. Allen McButterpants will be making his debut at Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center (228 W Montauk Hwy., Hampton Bays,wildliferescuecenter.org) at 10 a.m. February 2.

The Quogue Library’s Annual Groundhog Day Celebration will be held 3:30-5 p.m. Thursday, February 2 at 90 Quogue Street in Quogue. For more information, visit quogue.librarycalendar.com