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SUN PRAIRIE - Seems like even prognosticating groundhogs are sick of winter

Jimmy the Groundhog predicted an early arrival of spring during the 71st annual Groundhog Prognostication Event Saturday in downtown Sun Prairie. Sun Prairie Mayor Paul Esser and state Rep. Gary Hebl joined Jimmy on stage, and Esser relayed Jimmy's forecast to the dozens of people in attendance. 

Jimmy's prediction comes the same week as snow and extreme cold took turns marching through Wisconsin. Wind chills that brought temps to the neighborhood of a frigid 50 degrees below zero from Tuesday night to Thursday morning were preceded by several inches of snow fell in communities across the state from Sunday night into Monday.

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The winter weather relented a bit Saturday morning, making for a far more comfortable experience for those who attended the event. Businesses offered special Groundhog Day deals, such as groundhog-decorated cookies at Market Street Diner, Jimmy Lattes at the Beans & Cream Coffeehouse, and special commemorative stamps at Prairie Flowers & Gifts. Groundhog Day shirts and stuffed animals were available at multiple businesses downtown.

Contests and other special events tied to Groundhog Day were held across Sun Prairie, including the inaugural Groundhog Open pub putt event and all-day showings of the 1993 movie "Groundhog Day" at Marcus Palace Cinema.

"This is one time," Bill Murray's weatherman character tells the camera at the movie's Groundhog Day event, "where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather." 

Wilderness Walk Zoo and Recreation Park near Hayward was the official groundhog handler for this year’s event, according to a news release from the city. 

Read more about Wisconsin's deep freeze

ALMOST OVER: What to expect during the final day of the polar vortex in Wisconsin

ICY INFORMATION: 5 cold facts about Wisconsin's lowest temps

VIDEO: Mesmerizing bubbles freeze in Wisconsin cold

STAY SAFE: 7 tips on avoiding frostbite and hypothermia

 

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