Early Spring? Dunkirk Dave Says Yes

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul with Dunkirk Dave and his handler, Bob Will, on Friday. Submitted photo

DUNKIRK – He’s the groundhog of the people.

Dunkirk Dave is predicting an early spring as he did not see his shadow in front of a prominent crowd including Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Dunkirk City Mayor Wilfred Rosas, Dunkirk Town Supervisor Richard Purol and Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello.

“Well, I have very good news for people in the state of New York,” Hochul said. “We are going to have an early spring. It’s announced, it’s official here in Dunkirk, New York; it’s an early spring. Thank you so much, we love that idea.”

Though Dave had a great time with no shadow, Punxsutawney Phil wasn’t feeling the same.

The groundhog out of Pennsylvania saw his shadow and believes there will be six more weeks of winter.

“Well, we learned early on that you have to go by what the groundhog really sees in his eyes and you got to do it from the ground,” trainer Bob Will said with his assistant Bill Verge. “Tradition dictates that the whole routine of seeing if he sees his shadow and how the groundhog acts all depends on if the groundhog is on the ground or not.”

When Dunkirk Dave is preparing his meteorologist report on Groundhog Day, he’s flat on the ground and moving around his small house. Punxsutawney Phil is hoisted in the air for the national media, not getting his feet planted on the surface.

Will was confident that Dave did not see his shadows by the way he acted, despite the media and politicians.

“The groundhog out there today had a very happy look, very content and very (much) enjoying all the pie,” Will said. “… Ordinarily, he wouldn’t have ate the pie like that. So, he didn’t pay attention to anything except the pie and didn’t try to go back in (his home).”

The groundhog who was chosen to be Dunkirk Dave was Bullet. There’s actually a science in picking which groundhog in Will’s rehabilitation will represent as the Southern Tier prognosticator.

“Because he was the most active and awake and his feet were warm, to tell you the truth,” Will said. “If his feet were warm, that tells me there is good circulation and they’re fully alert. If their feet were cold, they are still partly in hibernation. Even though the body feels warm, if their feet are cold, then the internal core is cold. If the core is cold, the blood is thicker, the reactions are slower, the thought process is slower. … That’s the secret to that.”

Will, after the show was over and the groundhogs returned to their facility, was drinking his Country Fair coffee, trying to prepare for sleep after packing Dave’s home back up. He admitted that he did not sleep the night before in preparation of the big morning with the lieutenant governor in town.

“It was freezing; it was cold,” Will said. “But it worked out better than I thought.”

It won’t be all too cold for long if Dunkirk Dave has anything to say about it.

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