Early Spring

DUNKIRK – Dunkirk Dave has spoken, and it’s beginning to look a lot like spring … possibly.

The area’s favorite prognosticating groundhog did not see his shadow on a cloudy Sunday morning, but did get a chance to nibble on a slice of delicious pumpkin pie after coming out of his dwelling, which is a miniature dollhouse. The prediction of an early spring incited cheers from a small crowd gathered on Farmlane Drive in the town of Dunkirk.

“He could smell the pumpkin pie, for one reason as to why he came out,” Dave’s handler, Bob Will, said. “We noticed he didn’t show any activity or he wasn’t scared, like he wanted to run back in the house. So we’re going to have early spring weather instead of six more weeks of winter, because he didn’t show any reaction to running back inside or being scared.”

Will added the fluctuating weather this winter may affect Dave’s prediction.

“It’s been unusual weather this year, but we can always hope for an early spring,” he said.

Around 25 people (many of them children) from across Western New York braved the cold and the early hours of the morning to catch a glimpse of the nationally-famous furry rodent.

Lewiston resident Jennifer Mielke traveled the farthest out of everyone and brought her niece Mackenzie, 6, and nephew David, 8, with her for their first time seeing a groundhog.

“I’ve seen them in books, though,” Mackenzie said. “They look different. They look like beavers.”

“I came last year, so we decided to come out again today,” Mielke said. “Definitely (was) hoping for an early spring, since Mackenzie and David want to get outside and start playing.”

Mackenzie did admit, however, that she enjoys playing in the snow.

Marty Rosiek operates Farmthisway, a vegetable farm in Brant.

“One day a year, you’ve just got to love the woodchucks, especially seeing the kids getting so excited over one,” he said. “And, of course, an early spring always helps.”

Vicki Notaro celebrated her birthday Sunday and thought there was no better way to celebrate than to see Dunkirk Dave and hope for a gift in the form of an early spring prediction, which she received.

“Best birthday yet!” she said. “I’ve always wanted to come out and see the groundhog.”

Dunkirk Dave’s fellow prognosticating groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow on Groundhog Day, indicating six more weeks of winter. However, this area can rest assured that Dunkirk Dave might be the correct rodent. According to a National Public Radio article on Saturday, Phil is 39 percent accurate. Will said Dave’s accuracy is about 90 percent.

Dunkirk Dave is considered the second-longest prognosticating groundhog in the world, according to his website. For more information, visit www.dunkirkdave.com.