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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Rest in peace to Mel, the groundhog we didn’t know we loved

Milltown Mel, as seen on his Instagram.
Courtesy of Milltown Mel’s Instagram
Milltown Mel, as seen on his Instagram.

This is a developing story.

Milltown Mel, the celebrity groundhog who predicted the weather in Milltown, New Jersey each year on Feb. 2, has tragically passed away only a few short hours before his most important day of the year: Groundhog Day.

NPR reported Tuesday that the town of Milltown was scrambling to find a new groundhog to take Mel’s place after his handlers reported him dead.

The medical examiner has yet to release an autopsy or cause of death report. 

“We wranglers are sad to report that Milltown Mel recently crossed over the rainbow bridge,” Mel’s handlers said in a post on Facebook. “Considering the average lifespan of a groundhog is about 3 years, that is not such a shock, but Mel left us at a tough time of year.”

To the surprise of many in The Suffolk Journal newsroom, there is more than one groundhog who attempts to predict the weather each year on Feb. 2. There are several groundhogs in multiple states who find themselves the center of attention soon after their hibernation. 

The most famous groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil, who pops out of his home at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Penn., to predict when winter will end. Last time that The Journal checked, Phil was alive, well and excited to be in the limelight again (Editor’s note: we’re guessing. We don’t speak groundhog). 

But let’s get back to Mel. According to his handlers, who call themselves the “Milltown Wranglers,” there were no replacement groundhogs available to stand in for our beloved Mel on such short notice. This is likely due to the fact that most groundhogs found in the wild are still hibernating at this point in the year. 

After spending last year in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mel was reportedly very excited to take the stage again. Unfortunately, the festivities in Milltown have been canceled.

“We will work hard on getting us a new weather prognosticator for next year,” the wranglers said. “‘Till then please check out what all of Mel’s cousins have to say on Feb 2nd.”

May Mel rest in peace, and may spring arrive soon.

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William Woodring
William Woodring, Senior Editor-at-Large | he/him
Will is a senior majoring in public relations. He is originally from Medway, Massachusetts. In his free time, he enjoys listening to music, writing, reading, and running. He is interested in political journalism and hopes to go into politics after graduating. Follow Will on X @woodringwill
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Rest in peace to Mel, the groundhog we didn’t know we loved