We made the pre-dawn trip across the Verrazano Bridge to see Staten Island Chuck, the city's official Groundhog Day mascot, at the Staten Island Zoo. Every year, Chuck is rousted from his lair by the mayor and asked whether or not he saw his shadow. The ceremony included a few brief speeches from city officials, who seemed to take great joy in rattling off corny jokes about Mayor Bloomberg's mishap last year, when Chuck took a small bite out of his finger when the mayor was trying the extricate him from his house. Though several speakers talked about what a great borough Staten Island is, no one made the obvious pun about the fact that they were about to coax a groundhog out of his "burrow." Now that's comedy gold.
The fracas last year, and the resulting media attention, did much to improve attendance this year; according to one reporter we talked to at the zoo, there were far more cameras and reporters on hand than at previous ceremonies (you can see a report from NY1 here). I guess they were all chasing the story every cub reporter dreams about, "Groundhog Bites Mayor." That's the stuff of Pulitzers and Local Emmys. Aside from the reporters and civil servants, we appeared to be the only adults there who weren't accompanying small children.
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