At this point, you have got to be wondering if Old Man Winter will hang around for another several months or if spring
will save us from more roof shoveling. That thought led me to wonder why Durango doesn't have an official weather
prognosticating event similar to Groundhog Day.
The official Groundhog Day is celebrated Feb. 2 in the United States and Canada. The holiday began as a Pennsylvania
German custom and had it origins in European weather lore.
While Groundhog Day is recognized throughout North America, the most well-known event is held in Punxsutawney, Pa.,where crowds as large as 40,000 people have gathered to celebrate the holiday. The most famous weather rodent is by far
Punxsutawney Phil, the local groundhog that emerges from its burrow, and if it's cloudy he sees no shadow, thus
signifying an early end to winter. Conversely, if it's sunny, Phil sees his shadow and dives back into the burrow for
six more weeks of winter.
Local sources told me I shouldn't count on finding a Durango groundhog and suggested a stand-in marmot. Other places
without an ample supply of celebrity groundhogs honor the badger, the mole, the squirrel or the bear.
I'm sure our town mayor isn't too keen on holding up a smelly, wiggling, muddy rodent on the steps of City Hall at 7
a.m. Feb. 2 or awakening a bear and coaxing it into downtown for a media spectacle is really stupid so what should
When in doubt, ask the locals.
A historian claimed that when the snow is off Smelter Mountain, spring is coming. The snowplow driver said, Winter's
over when it stops snowing." The local agriculture office reported that when snow fleas jump, that means something.
One rancher smiled at me and said he enjoyed ground hog. Several bar patrons said when they leave the saloon, if it's
sunny they go back in and order another round.
The locals never fail to disappoint.
So, here's one proposal that has some possibilities. Next spring, we hold a tug-of-war between the winter people and
the summer people. We'll select an event name and date, find a downtown location and some sponsors, and get a proper
tugging rope. The event will be a headliner match-up between the stubborn grip of the wintertime team verses a strong
and feisty springtime team.
The winning team can claim to be our official weather pro-phet for that year. We'll become as famous as Jimmy the
Don't forget what the old geezer said, The trouble with weather forecasting is that it's right too often for us to
ignore it, and wrong too often for us to rely on it."
Bob Kunkel is special events and business coordinator for Durango's Central Business District.