It’s a tradition in Central Illinois. Join Wildlife Prairie State Park in the early morning hours for a very special event as the area’s iconic groundhog, Gertie, makes her annual weather prognostication at Gertie’s Groundhog Day Outing from 6-9 a.m. Sunday.
An exciting early morning agenda leads up to Gertie’s appearance at sunrise, approximately 7:08 a.m. The park naturalists will talk about the history of Groundhog Day and present interesting facts about groundhogs, local musician, Barry Cloyd, will teach everyone the song, “Wake Up, Gertie," and Gertie will arrive in “red-carpet style” aboard our very own fire truck. While waiting for the prognostication, you can warm yourself up in the Visitor’s Center. Hot drinks will be for sale as well as a chance to win a few items. Sunday Breakfast Buffet with all-you-can-eat scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and French toast is available in Hespell Hall after the prognostication. Admission to the park is free. Brunch is $5.99 for children and $6.99 for adults. Beverages, tax and gratuity are not included. At 7:08 a.m., Gertie will make her first public appearance of the New Year from her specially-designed “Wildlife Chalet” and predict if the Midwest will experience an early spring or six more weeks of winter in 2014. Gertie will also predict this year’s Super Bowl winner as well.
The first 500 people in the gates for Gertie’s Groundhog Day Outing will receive a coupon from the local McDonald’s for a free large sandwich, courtesy of Clark Management, LLC. AND the first 200 people to come through the gates get a coupon from Buffalo Wild Wings for six free Wings with the purchase of one soda, courtesy of Cekander Group. There is a bit of a twist for the BWW coupons though. One says Gertie saw her shadow. The other coupon says Gertie did not see her shadow. Only the coupons which match Gertie’s prognostication win. Some restrictions apply, so check all coupons for details.
“This is Gertie’s 22 prognostication and we expect her to declare an early spring,” says Janice Brown, Event Coordinator for Gertie’s Groundhog Day Outing. Sara Tate said, “Gertie has been more accurate than Punxsutawney Phil during those years. The data shows Gertie is 67 percent accurate and Punxsutawney Phil is only 33 percent accurate over the same time period.”
Sports fans will love the fact that Gertie will again predict the Super Bowl winner; she has been correct three for three. Gertie started predicting the Super Bowl winner when the NFL moved the big game to be after Groundhog’s Day. This year the game falls on her big day.
Gertie comes out every year “weather” there is sun, clouds. snow, blizzards, ice, fog…she’s seen it all and she loves a crowd. So bundle up and come to Wildlife Prairie Park.
Gertie’s Groundhog Day Outing Schedule:
6:00 a.m. – Park opens with free admission and McDonald’s and Buffalo Wild Wing coupon giveaways.
6:00 a.m. – Visitor’s Center opens as a warming station with hot drinks for sale.
6:15 a.m. – Barry Cloyd entertains with the “Wake Up, Gertie” song and other fine music
6:30 a.m. – Official Welcome and arrival of Gertie
6:40 a.m. – Educational presentations by park naturalists
6:55 a.m. – Introduction of Wildlife Prairie Park Officials
7:00 a.m. - Wake Up, Gertie!
7:08 a.m. – Weather prognostication by none other than Gertie the Groundhog… and then the Super Bowl prediction
7:15 a.m. – Continue a day at the park by enjoying Sunday Breakfast Buffet in Hespell Hall (kids $5.99, adults $6.99)
Following Gertie’s weather and Super Bowl predictions, plan to get your picture taken with Gertie and walk the Merrill Woods Trail which will be open to the public for free all day.
For more information see our facebook page at www.facebook.com/wildlifeprairiestatepark, or call Jan Brown at 309-657-2681 or email her at email@example.com