For most, Groundhog Day is Feb. 2, but for Knox College it is Feb. 4.
The day’s festivities started at noon. Everyone eating in the Hard Knox Café and the Gizmo was surprised during their meal by a groundhog, or more specifically a Union Board member in a groundhog suit, parading around. The groundhog took pictures with the confused but excited students.
Then the groundhog, like a Pied Piper, led students from their meals to the Oak Room where the celebration was waiting for them. In the center of the room was a table where students could decorate their own plastic flying discs and boomerangs. Off to the side was a snow cone machine and Union Board members ladling out “dirt” (Oreo fluff, cookie crumbles and gummy worms). The groundhog was there too, making her way through the room to interact with all the visitors.
According to junior and Union Board member Dan Moriarty, Union Board hoped that by celebrating Groundhog Day they would give a little more attention to an “underrated holiday” and give students a place to “have a good time on a Saturday and celebrate.”
Originally, Union Board planned on bringing a live groundhog, but when that proved impossible, Moriarty suggested that if they could not get a live ground hog “why not just dress up like one?”
The groundhog was what attracted senior Rachel Klingler.
“Jil [Gates] just told us to come in and get a picture with the groundhog,” she said. She also grabbed some of the dirt pudding for herself and another cup for her roommate who was at a swim meet.
Freshman Laura Ernst also enjoyed the events.
“It’s really cute what Union Board is doing for Groundhog’s Day,” she said. She was slightly disturbed by the giant groundhog, but she still enjoyed the novelty.
“It’s not something you see every day,” Ernst said.
Although Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter on the real Groundhog Day, Ernst was not concerned.
“It’s not really wintery right now, so I wouldn’t mind six more weeks of this,” she said.
Groundhog Day brought up vivid memories for sophomore Jenna Cohen. When she was in first grade, the class gathered around to watch whether or not the groundhog saw its shadow. The class was shocked when, instead of popping out of its hole, the groundhog died.
The teacher, who was fresh out of school, was not sure what to do until Cohen piped up. “Well, Mrs. Olkowski,” she said, “that’s one groundhog who won’t be seeing its shadow.” In her parent-teacher conference, Cohen’s teacher said “this child saved my life.”
The memory is still fresh enough in Cohen’s mind that she repeated the phrase on her flying disc right above a sketch of a groundhog.
Like Ernst, Cohen wasn’t worried about the groundhog’s chilly prediction.
“Frankly, I don’t think it’s very accurate” she said with a laugh. “It’s a fun tradition, it’s silly, it’s harmless and it gives us another way relax on a Saturday.”