A crowd of about 150 people gathered Saturday morning for a weather prediction on the Hope Town Square. Luckily, it was a forecast that everyone was happy to hear -- an early end to winter.

The forecast was made by a Hope celebrity, Grubby the Groundhog. According to tradition, if the groundhog sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If it does not see the shadow, winter will end soon.

Saturday morning was overcast and foggy morning, making sure that there were no shadows to be seen. And so the prediction was made: Winter will end soon! David Webster, making the official prediction, defiantly threw his sunglasses to the ground, glad not to need them at that moment. 

The annual event drew visitors from surrounding areas, including a WTHR news crew from Indianapolis. Adults and children alike attended the event, and people of all ages could be seen dancing to the "Pennsylvania Polka," angling to get a better look at Grubby and to hear the upcoming prediction.

Hope’s Groundhog Day celebration was provided by Main Street of Hope. Susan Thayer Fye, director of the group, was very happy with the attendance and the prediction.

“Grubby made lots of people happy Saturday morning on the Hope Town Square by predicting an early spring!” Fye said.

Grubby the Groundhog is cared for by Kathy Hershey with Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitators. Grubby was attacked by a dog when she was young, and brought to Utopia for care. By the time that she was healthy enough to return to the wild, she had become acclimated to human contact, and sought out humans instead returning to her wild habitat. Ms. Hershey kept her, and she became the centerpiece of a new tradition in town.

February 2nd falls during the period of winter when groundhogs hibernate, so Grubby was not terribly happy to be taken from her warm box and thrust into the cold morning. Nevertheless, she was a good sport, and she posed for pictures with anyone who wanted.

Fye feels that the Town Square is the perfect backdrop for the event.

“Groundhog Day used our historically correct Town Square near the bandstand, historically-dressed attendants and speakers, and this historically-centered event which dates back to the 1880's.”

She said events like this reflect bygone eras and long held traditions fit well in the Town Square.

After the event, refreshments were provided by Willow Leaves of Hope and the Hope Fire Department provided a free will offering pancake breakfast to the community.

The officiants for the event were Dr. Greg Sweet, Chuck Baker, Dave Miller, David Webster, Michael Dean, Lizzie Flora, and Jessica Brown.