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Sir Walter Wally Sees His Shadow

Posted February 1, 1998

— Punxatawney Phil, move over and make room for Sir Walter Wally. People at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences figured what does a Pennsylvania groundhog know about Tar Heel Winters? Their solution may be the first step in a new tradition.

Ground hog day used to be something folks in this state watched others celebrate in colder northern states. But shadows and rodents were all the rage today in downtown Raleigh.

We have our own Ground Hog now and his name is Sir Walter Wally.

"North Carolina has more and more groundhogs coming here each year," explains museum spokesperson Phillip Cox. "They're slowly coming down from the northeastern states where they're more common, and they're taking up residence in our fields and along roads here in North Carolina."

The notion that a groundhog can predict winter's duration by his shadow is anything but science, but museum officials see it all as an educational opportunity none-the-less.

"This allows us to expand our public education, let some folks know about groundhogs," Bob Flook says. "I'll bet most people didn't know that they are actually in the squirrel family."

After all was said and done, Sir Walter Wally did see his shadow. And you know what that means, six more weeks of winter.

Sir Walter Wally is really a stage name. Raleigh's official groundhog is from Beech Mountain and his name is Toby.


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