Early spring? Queen City Charlie to give prediction

Jan. 31—CUMBERLAND — Is spring right around the corner or will Cumberland face another six weeks of winter? Cumberland's official Groundhog Day mascot will soon weigh in.

Queen City Charlie will make his official prediction Friday during the city's 17th annual Groundhog Day Celebration at City Hall Plaza. It will be Charlie's third prediction. For more than a decade, prognostications were handled by Western Maryland Murray, a live groundhog who died in 2021.

Friday's program begins at 7 a.m. and will include Mayor Ray Morriss and members of City Council. Before Charlie's prediction at about 7:22 a.m., officials will announce winners of the annual coloring contest and read a proclamation.

Complimentary hot chocolate from Cafe Mark and groundhog-themed cookies rom M&M Bakery will be available.

The late Murray, owned and handled by Bob Candy of the former Tri-State Zoological Park of Western Maryland, was honored during the 2022 event.

Murray, Candy said, didn't live with other animals at the zoo but with him in his home. In the wild, groundhogs live to be about 6 years old — Murray made it to 14.

He was much more than a groundhog, Candy said.

"Here's a groundhog — I guess you could consider him a rodent if you want — and he's a small animal, but he brought so much happiness," Candy said. "He was fun. He touched a lot of people."

Groundhog Day is a tradition in the United States and Canada. Originating with the Pennsylvania Dutch, the superstition says if the groundhog emerges from his burrow and sees his shadow, he will retreat and winter will persist for six more weeks. If the groundhog does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.