Wiarton Willie, gifted Ontario groundhog, has died
Ontario's Wiarton Willie, the gifted albino prognosticator has died, South Bruce Peninsula Mayor Janice Jackson announced Tuesday.
The famed rodent died due to a tooth abscess prior to last year’s Groundhog Day ceremony, the mayor said.
Last year, a pre-recorded video without Willie was sent out by the municipality on Groundhog Day morning, prompting rumours about Wiarton Willie’s health.
In the video, a hat took Willie's place, with Jackson sharing his prediction of an early spring.
However, the show must go on Jackson said, which is why for the 66th anniversary of Wiarton Willie’s weather forecasting event, a live, in-person event will return on Feb. 2, 2022, but with a brown groundhog.
Jackson says albino groundhogs are rare, and although they’ve been searching far and wide for Willie’s replacement, the impending hibernation of groundhogs meant they had to adopt a brown groundhog to take Willie’s place this year.
Jackson says, as sad as they are to lose albino Willie, they are excited about the return of a live, in-person prediction morning.
“We look forward to gathering together for a 'live' event in 2022. It will be great to be able to celebrate Willie’s prediction together, as a community,” she says.