GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Michigan’s prognosticator of prognosticators appears this weekend at Winterfest on the Hill.
Woody, a female groundhog, is guest of honor at the celebration, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2 — Groundhog Day.
“She’s a pretty famous groundhog from the Howell Nature Center,” said Dick Huhn, Grosse Pointe Farms parks and recreation director, event organizer.
“As far as we know, this is the only prognosticating groundhog in Michigan,” said Dana DeBenham, director of the center.
Woody debuts on the Hill at 1 p.m. at a location to be announced.
“We’ll make a proclamation,” said Mayor James Farquhar.
“We’re building a platform for it,” said Terry Brennan, public service director.
Farquhar plans to preside in style.
“I’m going to call the Grosse Pointe Theatre to borrow a top hat,” he said.
Woody arrives fresh from making his annual prediction in Howell earlier that morning of the coming of spring.
If she sees her shadow, there’s six more weeks of winter. No shadow means an early spring.
Woody’s made correct predictions 10 out of 14 times, the first at age 6 months, DeBenham said.
“They’re going to bring him and at least three of his cohorts here,” Huhn said.
The entourage tentatively consists of a great horned owl, Virginia possum and turkey vulture.
“An interpreter from the nature center will have the animals on a stage and do a little talk,” Huhn said.
“The talk is about how Michigan birds and mammals handle our winters,” DeBenham said.
The nature center is the largest wildlife rehabilitation center in Michigan,” she added.
“We also teach programs with permanently injured birds and mammals for wildlife conservation and education,” DeBenham said. “We specialize in raptors: hawks, owls, eagles and falcons. We also have mammals. We do well over 200 off-site programs every year. We teach many more here on property.”
Farms Winterfest is becoming an all-Pointe attraction, largely due to the logistics of being staged in the central business district rather than a residents-only park.
“It’s a community-wide event, not just for the Farms,” Farquhar said.
“We anticipate a couple thousand people,” Huhn said.
At least one dozen separate activities are scheduled throughout the district.
Highlights include chili dogs, hot chocolate and coffee served at a warming tent on the grounds of Richard Elementary School.
There’s ice carving and putt-putt golf at the Hall Place parking lot.
Competitors in the chili cook off, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Bologna Building, 131 Kercheval, have until Thursday, Jan. 31, to obtain and register entry forms at the recreation office at Pier Park, 350 Lakeshore.
“We’re limited to 20 entries,” Huhn said. “Voting is by the public. We have nice prizes; $100 gift certificates from The Hill Seafood & Chop House and Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe.”
Advance registration also is required to qualify for door prizes, announced at 2 p.m. in the Richard tent.
“Pick up registrations starting Thursday, Jan. 31, at sponsoring businesses,” Huhn said. “Drop them of by 2 p.m. at the Winterfest tent.”
Super Bowl tie-in
Winterfest occurs this year on Super Bowl weekend.
Hence, the Winterfest Super Bowl Games on the Grosse Pointe South High School softball field, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Contests consist of football throwing, a tailgate corn hole game and football kicking.
Thirty pre-carved ice sculptures are displayed in front of sponsoring businesses.
“They’ll be there until they melt,” Huhn said. “We also have two ice carving demonstrations the day of Winterfest. One is in front of the public library, sponsored by Dirty Dog. The other is in the Richard lot, sponsored by Morgan Stanley and The Hill Association.”
Additional activities are:
s’mores, all day, sponsored by the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce at the Richard lot;
cookie decorating, 1 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., sponsored by host, Henry Ford Cottage Hospital and Medical Center, 159 Kercheval;
face painting, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at locations: Henry Ford Medical Center, 159 Kercheval; and PNC Bank, 1 Kercheval; and
music by Pro DJ Service, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Richard lot tent.
Winterfest on the Hill is sponsored by:
Grosse Pointe Farms,
Hill Business Association,
Russell Development Company,
Grosse Pointe News,
Bologna Building Company and Kercheval Development,