In addition to declaring that we are in for an early spring, Connecticut Chuckles, the state's official groundhog, revealed herself to be a New England Patriots fan Thursday as part of her Groundhog Day prediction at the .
The has become an eagerly anticipated and highly attended tradition at the Lutz Children's Museum in Manchester for years, and this year's event did not disappoint as about 200 parents and their children - not to mention a throng of media members - crammed into the small museum on South Main Street to hear the groundhog's prediction.
It's a simple thing: if Chuckles spies her shadow, it means we're in for six more weeks of winter; if she doesn't see, it's an omen of an early spring.
Chuckles whispers her prediction each year into the mayor of Manchester's ear, who tradition has it is endowed with special groundhog communication skills upon inauguration.
This year, that honor fell to , who assumed office last November and was communicating with Chuckles for the first time.
Former mayor and current State Sen. Steve Cassano cautioned Diana that communicating with Chuckles wasn't as easy as it might seem and warned the new mayor not to make any "rookie" mistakes.
"I did this 14 times and there's a real science in talking to this groundhog," Cassano said. "I was a mayor, and Lou Spadaccini was a mayor, so he speaks Italian. That's important, because we whisper in Italian to the groundhog, and the groundhog's going to tell us whether it's going to be warm like it was this week, or whether we're going to have more cold and more snow."
Diana, who said he had consulted with prior mayors and was confident that he did speak the same Italian dialect as Chuckles, leaned in to talk to with the groundhog.
After passing along a greeting through Diana, Chuckles told the mayor "winter is canceled this year; spring is here."
And then added "go Patriots!"
The crowd roared in equal parts approval and anticipation of Chuckles prediction.
After the ceremony, Diana said he found it easy to communicate with Chuckles and that he thought an early spring would be a benefit for residents of Manchester and all of Connecticut.
"I see people out already on the bike paths and on the roads running and biking and just enjoying the great weather and all the activities that we have," Diana said.
Although not as well known as her Pennsylvania cousin Punxsutawney Phil, Lutz Children's Museum Director Bob Eckert said that Chuckles has a "100 percent accuracy rate," so the citizens of Connecticut can go ahead and put away those winter jackets for the season.
"She's the only one who can accurately predict Connecticut's weather," said Eckert. "She's been working for months. She's got her Farmer's Almanac and all of her charts and graphs and things. She takes this job very, very seriously."
By the way, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow this morning and called for six more weeks of winter. Only time will tell which groundhog is more accurate.