By Beverly Perkins
A superstition going back to the late 1800s by the Dutch states that if a groundhog sees a shadow due to clear weather, it will retreat into its den because winter will occur for 6 more weeks. If it does not see a shadow due to cloudy skies, spring is on its way.
The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held each year in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where crowds have been known to exceed 40,000 as they wait in anticipation for Punxsutawney Phil to forecast the upcoming weather. However, the popular time-honored tradition will also be celebrated for the 14th year on Hollywood Beach.
Although South Floridians don’t have to worry about cold temperatures, the annual event brings out those who want to honor the day and participate in the legendary Groundhog Swim. The event will take place on Friday, February 2nd, 2018 from 6:30-8:00 a.m. at Ocean Alley Restaurant and Beach Bar, located at 900 N. Broadwalk (at A1A & Indiana Street) on the world-famous Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, with the swim taking place at 7:30 a.m.
No Groundhog Day bash would be complete without a special appearance by Punxsutawney Phil and live coverage of Groundhog Day from Punxsutawney, PA., the weather capital of the world. The event culminates with some of the heartiest souls taking a traditional dip in the Atlantic Ocean, which barely breaks 80 degrees by midday this time of year.
A $12 donation includes breakfast and a free souvenir T-shirt for swimmers. Shirts are available for non-swimmers at an additional $12 while quantities last. Proceeds will benefit the Hollywood Beach Lifeguard Competition Team to help cover travel expenses for the national competition in Virginia Beach this fall.
“It’s a great way to start the day for a great cause. The team trains hard all year to represent Hollywood in the national lifeguard competition and needs support for travel expenses. You either get Groundhog Day or you don’t. Sure, it’s silly but so is life sometimes. A hearty breakfast, a dip in the ocean, and a Hollywood Beach sunrise will give a new outlook on things,” said Jeff Hansen, Event Co-Sponsor (Cahoots Newspaper) and Member of the Beach Bum Chapter of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. “The first year we had 8 people and we now serve 150 breakfasts, and had 110 swimmers last year. We have a dedicated group of believers that a groundhog can predict the weather. Punxsutawney Phil Rocks!”