Hundreds of people gathered at the West Virginia Wildlife Center in Upshur County to hear what winter would be like from an expert: French Creek Freddie. Freddie brings in large crowds, but this year even a group of friends from Pittsburgh, Pa., decided to compare notes after seeing Punxsutawney Phil two years ago.
"We figured we'd go see another groundhog and I guess this was the closest," said Freddie fan Damian Dimeff.
"After we'd seen Punxsutawney Phil, we'll have to see how everybody else measures up!" said Joe Campisi of Pittsburgh.
French Creek Freddie didn't even have a name of his own before Groundhog Day 1978, asking how long the winter would run.
"What day, it was basically a telephone call. We didn't even have anything that day. The superintendent that was here at that time basically got a phone call and they said, "did he see his shadow?" He said, I don't know, so he basically said it's sunny outside, yes," said wildlife center employee Rob Silvester.
Silvester said having the event in the early part of the year isn't just fun for the participants, it also offers the wildlife center a great opportunity to give them a preview of the year to come.
"When we have this many people come here, we showcase some of the things we have here, some of the new things. It's a free day so they can walk and tour the area, and hopefully they'll come back this summer and visit the wildlife center again," Silvester said.
And as for the Pittsburgh crowd, they know which groundhog they'll be watching after Sunday.
Thanks to his good predictions, and his later wake-up call, they'll be following Freddie next time.