Groundhog Day is going to be different in New Jersey this year, as the beloved Milltown Mel has passed away.

His passing has resulted in the cancellation of the Milltown Groundhog Day festivities as they could not replace him on such short notice. Milltown Mel has been the face of Groundhog Day for the past 6 years, which is much longer than anticipated.

Groundhogs usually only live around three years, so Milltown Mel had been impressing the town for quite some time.

It’s interesting to note that when a Groundhog Day’s star groundhog dies, his successor is always given the same name as the last. This is not the first time a groundhog has passed right before the big day, but it is a shame how close the groundhog came to its 7th season.

If you're from around the Milltown area and you’re superstitious about Groundhog Day, or just think it’s plain all-out family fun to participate in it, don’t let Mel’s untimely passing keep you from the fun. There are still plenty of ways to engage in all of the activities.

Pennington, Flemington, West Orange and several other towns will be celebrating Groundhog Day with the usual festivities. And, course, you can also head over to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania if you’re interested in celebrating the 136th Groundhog day at Gobbler’s Knob.

Groundhog Day is one of those quirky yearly events that, while no one quite understands why we believe in or celebrate it, still gets people excited it. After all, it’s kind of fun to rely on a groundhog to determine our spring/summer forecast.

Fun fact: The first years of Groundhog Day were actually spent EATING groundhogs for some reason. Be glad that nasty tradition has come to an end and consider taking a visit to your local NJ Groundhog Day celebration.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

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