RALEIGH - With winter comes unpredictable weather, but one thing everyone can predict is that Sir Walter Wally almost always tells the truth! Come join us for the 11th annual Groundhog Day celebration at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The free event is Saturday, February 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m with the shadow ceremony beginning promptly at noon out on Bicentennial plaza (the ceremony will be held in the Museum Auditorium in case of inclement weather). Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker will join Museum educator John Connors, who will be outfitted in top hat and tails, to assist Wally with the forecast.
Each year crowds wait in anticipation to see if Wally sees his shadow. If he does, we're in for six more weeks of winter. Although not as well known nationally as Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania, Wally has been gaining recognition with his amazing accuracy, and last year was added to The Weather Channel's list of national representatives. Following the ceremony, Wally moves inside to his special station where those with cameras can pose for pictures alongside the famous weather predictor.
New this year, visitors can take advantage of additional educational stations on the first three floors of the Museum. There will be information on animal hibernation, animal architects, weather forecasting and more. There are also games like the Hog Toss, and new craft stations where you can make your own Groundhog that grows! For kids six and under there will be special story time programs about the Groundhog at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m.
Schools from across North Carolina will be keeping a close eye on Wally's prediction by comparing their findings to his via the Museum's website, naturalsciences.org. Anyone can download a free Groundhog Day Kit from the site, which includes a Weather Watch Activity Guide with activities about weather and groundhogs for grades K-8. You'll also find complete Groundhog Day results from previous years thanks to a collaboration between the Museum, the North Carolina State Climate Office and the University of North Carolina Department of Geography.
If Groundhogs aren't really your thing, there's even an event for Dinosaur enthusiasts! At 1 p.m., paleoartist and illustrator Mark Hallett will demonstrate how artists like himself model the life appearance of a prehistoric animal by sculpting the head of a juvenile Sauropod dinosaur. His free presentation coincides with the Museum's current traveling exhibit, "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries." For more information about Groundhog Day, contact Liz Jones at Liz.Jones@naturalsciences.org  or 919-733-7450, ext. 523.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, in downtown Raleigh, documents and interprets the natural history of the state of North Carolina through exhibits, research, collections, publications, and educational programming. Hours: Mon.-Sat., 9 am to 5 pm, and Sun., noon to 5 pm. Admission is free. Visit the Museum on the Web at naturalsciences.org . The Museum is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, William G. Ross Jr., Secretary.