Groundhog not invited to Babylon’s new Feb. 2 tradition


Babylon Village tried something different for Groundhog Day this morning: They left the groundhog off the guest list.

Mayor Mary Adams instead kicked off Long Island’s first annual animal-free Groundhog Day celebration with the unveiling of “Babylon Belle,” a groundhog mascot who came wearing bows in her hair and a tutu about her waist. And much to the delight of those in attendance, she predicted an early spring.

Billed as a progressive, cruelty-free new tradition, Babylon’s Groundhog Day celebration aimed to avoid the mishaps of the more traditional Feb. 2 celebrations, during which the groundhogs were scared and/or hurt, or in at least one case injured a mayor. The inaugural event drew a sizable crowd.

“To see why groundhogs should be allowed to be groundhogs and do what groundhogs do, which at this time of the year is sleep, we need look no further than Staten Island Chuck who bit New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg,” said John Di Leonardo, anthrozoologist and executive director of Humane Long Island, who spoke at the Babylon event.

Di Leonardo also noted Chuck’s stand-in, Charlotte, who passed away a week after being dropped by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Additionally, Malverne Mel tried to escape today’s ceremony in Malverne.

“Babylon Belle is not just your average groundhog,” Adams said. “She’s protecting our wildlife too and we’re keeping safe and happy all our outdoor friends, including groundhogs from being upset and stressed and having the early morning blues.”

Di Leonardo said when given the choice, groundhogs are solitary animals who only socialize with other groundhogs to choose a partner.

Photos: Courtesy of Humane Long Island

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