There’s a new groundhog in town, and her name is Gertie.
The Surry Arts Council Groundhog, Gertie, joined better-known weather forecasters of the groundhog persuasion, Punxsutawney Phil and Sir Walter Wally, in stepping out to meet the public on Groundhog’s Day.
Gertie is only a baby groundhog and too young to do any forecasting yet, according to new SAC creative director Shelby Coleman, who coincidentally showed up at the arts council at about the same time as Gertie.
Coleman and fellow creative director, Madi Chitty, began at the arts council on Jan. 3 and are planning programs for every holiday. Friday’s Groundhog Day puppet show, craft project and seasonal snack for area children is the first to come to fruition.
The children first decorated cookies to look like groundhogs, then crafted groundhogs on sticks with accompanying groundhog burrows from which to pop out.
The curtain then went up on the Surry Arts Council puppet theater — re-purposed from WPAQ’s impending 70th birthday — and Coleman introduced Gertie and asked the 30 or so children present what they thought of the various groundhogs’ forecast.
Punxsutawney Phil, (a pal of Gertie’s, according to Coleman) predicted six more weeks of winter while Sir Walter Wally, North Carolina’s official groundhog (and Gertie’s cousin, again according to Coleman), predicted an early spring.
The children overwhelmingly agreed with Phil even though Coleman assured them Wally has a much better track record.
Coleman asked the children to give Gertie some weather forecasting advice for next year when she will presumably be mature enough to pick up the long-standing tradition of groundhog weather prediction.
Advice ranged from following the usual protocol of being guided by her shadow, using the temperature as a guide, sleeping over with friends the night before for some guidance, or to just check the weather channel before coming out of her burrow.
“Maybe you can get cable, Gertie,” suggested Coleman.
The children then lined up, filed backstage and had photo ops with Gertie in the puppet theater, where they displayed the groundhogs and groundhog burrows they had made. Their groundhog cookies had long since been eaten.
The next holiday on the horizon is Valentine’s Day with two events planned.
“Valentine’s Day Princess Ball with Dad” will be Sunday, Feb. 11, from 4-6 p.m. All ages are welcome, $10 per person at Andy Griffith Museum Theatre. Girls are encouraged to wear their favorite princess dress to the ball with Dad as Prince Charming. Registration at SurryArts.org.
Valentine Craft Workshop will be Monday, Feb. 12, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. All ages are welcome, $5 at Andy Griffith Museum Theatre. Registration at SurryArts.org.