Trailside Jack makes his Groundhog Day Prediction

It was a bright and sunny morning on February 2, 2013, but chilly. The overhead sun was ominous and park staff was out in full effect. News cameras were lining the pavement. At 11:15am a promenade of people had gathered outside and were eagerly awaiting the moment of truth.

Pattye Livingston and fiance Ken Hall were just making their way up the mountain on Saturday morning - hiking as per their usual weekend routine - when they noticed that a crowd was gathered around the Bear Mountain Lodge, so they stopped to see what the fuss was all about and grab a cup of hot chocolate. Just then a woman with paper buckteeth passed behind them, as they nodded in realization of the day's festivities.

Girl scouts from Troop 40493 in Pearl River greeted everyone with a smile. The girls were handing out weather prediction stickers to visitors young and old. Troop leader Merill McGarity explained that the girls are earning their way towards their Journey Badge.

A grandstand had made its way to the grounds of the state park and something exciting, something not seen here at Bear Mountain State Park since the 1970's was brewing. This year Trailside Jack - a 1-year-old groundhog (resident of the Bear Mountain Zoo) arrived to make a prediction about winter alongside his groundhog brethren Punxsutawney Phil and Holtsville Hal (who both proclaimed 'early Spring!').

Ed McGowen has been the Bear Mountain Zoo director for 7 years - he was joined by Matt Shook, program manager for the Palisades Park Interstate Park Commission and Doc Bayne Sterling Forest educator emeritus all in anticipation of the meteorological genius..

Jack took the stage at 11:30am

"You who believe in the world's greatest weatherhog - Trailside Jack who's never been wrong...

Shadow does he see today... winter is here to stay!"


Thus, the forecast according to Jack is six more weeks of winter ! Make time to check out the beautiful outdoor skating rink at Bear Mountain Park before spring melts it away!