Amidst the hubbub surrounding Groundhog Day, local Goshen residents Margot and Dean Wood expressed their displeasure of the yearly celebration, citing the holiday as a “blatant disregard for the larger rodent community” and “embarrassingly close-minded.” Yesterday, the couple, along with their two muskrat pets Pete and Rose, drove eight hours to Punxsutawney, Pa., – the largest worldwide Groundhog celebration – to picket the event.“It makes me sad, really,” said Margot, “I hear a lot of talk about rodent equality, but until tangible action is taken, it’s just lip-service. Groundhog Day is the culmination of that.”
Director of International Education Tom Meyers stated that he, too, was against the obvious preferential treatment given to groundhogs in favor of their beaver and muskrat cousins. “It’s just plain disrespectful. As to why we celebrate the unique cultural tradition of one animal while leaving the rest of the rodentia class off the holiday map is ludicrous,” he said.
While many express their displeasure, many more look with fondness on this Feb. 2 tradition. Juniors Angela Bishop and Melina Hunsberger recall going to Punxsutawney as small children to see Phil (the star groundhog) emerge from his hole to pull off his best Al Roker impersonation. “We celebrated this year by making pancakes in the shape of groundhogs and watching the festivities live on TV,” said Bishop. “It’s not like actually being there, but seeing Phil make his big appearance is really quite special,” added Hunsberger.
To be sure, this is not an issue that will likely come to quick resolution. The lines are clearly drawn and feelings are intense. Thoughtful communication is necessary. Perhaps the following reconciliatory words of Dean Wood can act as a starting place: “I hate them daggum oversized squirrels.” Bishop responded to the statement with one of her own. “Tell Dean that I hope he gets locked in a cupboard filled with rabid weasels.” Undoubtedly, it is through peaceful dialogue like this with which real change starts to take place.