A dramatic twist in the Val-d’Espoir near Percé in the Gaspésie: Fred the marmot Gaspé was found dead early Thursday morning when he was supposed to be making his traditional weather forecast.
• Also read: Spring comes late, says Fred the panting groundhog
Organizers “transparently” broke the news to the roughly 250 people who had gathered to witness the prediction
“It’s a real day of life. No one is forever, no animal is forever,” said Groundhog Day creator Roberto Blondin.
“When I slept with Fred this fall, he was fat. He had been fed corn well and seemed fine,” said Mr Blondin, who noticed the “death” when trying to wake him around 1:30 a.m. last night.
The marmot Val-d’Espoir was in its second generation and the next generation will be ready for the 15th edition.
“We have a small marmot in breeding, but it is too small to take out. It wouldn’t have made sense to take it out in cold weather like today,” said the organizer, when the temperature in this municipality in the Percé hinterland was around -20 degrees.
However, some children have taken over with a stuffed marmot and since she has seen her shadow, spring will be late.
“You have to take it with humor. It happened too fast. Junior will be in training in May and will have the right to predict early or late spring next year,” assured Mr Blondin.
The “sudden” death marred the celebrations as the event went face-to-face again after two years without an audience due to the pandemic.
“It’s a new experience, even if it’s been a long time. It’s a new experience every time. The day before, the children tell us that we have to go. We get up early and see the groundhog,” said Nancy Vachon, a regular at the event.
As is customary at Candlemas, pancakes were served to the participants.