Six more weeks of winter? Is spring coming sooner than we expect? Either way, the "rodent meteorologist" makes his prediction every year, and its big business for some small towns.

In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the estimate from a 2014 report is that between 20,000 and 25,000 visitors come to town for the Ground Hog Day festivities, filling hotels, and restaurants and bringing in an estimated $5,000,000 to the local economy!

Groundhog Day

Believe it or not, there are several groundhogs across New Jersey who also predict the remaining winter. Perhaps the most well know WAS "Milltown Mel", who tragically died before the 2022 ceremony.

This year, the good folks in Milltown found a replacement, but they say there is an obscure State Regulation prohibiting the groundhog from working today. Seems that we have a job for the "Common Sense" team to figure out what regulation would prevent the money maker from taking the stage and fighting to change it!

There's also "Lady Edwina" from Essex County who makes an appearance at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, and let's not leave out Sussex County's favorite rodent, Stonewall Jackson V!

Clearly, none of the Jersey groundhogs are bringing in the cash that is pouring into Punxsutawney.

My thought is we do two things. First, find out and remove any legal restrictions preventing groundhogs from earning a living.

Second, declare a "Garden State Ground Hog" who will travel the state, year to year bringing ceremony, excitement, and tourist dollars to a town near you. Towns could compete for the honor and it could be hosted by local restaurants, bars, and Craft Breweries.

Imagine a street festival from dawn to lunch with food trucks, fire pits, and flowing local beer. Maybe we focus on the Jersey Shore to bring business during the cold winter season.

Garden State Ground Hog could be a hit, are you with me? We'll call him "Jersey Jerry".

Maybe he'll even be a part of the cutest pet contest:

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The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.

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