By Rosalind Russell – It’s Groundhog Day … Early spring or 6 more weeks of winter? Wiarton Willie’s prediction is set to take place at 8:07 a.m. ET.

People are gathering in Wiarton, Ont., Friday morning for the annual Groundhog Day festivities.

Wiarton Willie, an albino groundhog, is expected to make his prediction about whether there will be an early spring or six more weeks of winter at 8:07 a.m. ET. To give the prediction, Willie is brought out of his habitat and he tells a local official, usually the mayor, whether he sees his shadow.

If Willie sees his shadow, it’s six more weeks of winter. No shadow means an early spring.

The town of about 1,900 people on the shores of an inlet of Georgian Bay holds an annual festival that kicks off with a pancake breakfast and fireworks at 7 a.m.

Wiarton also celebrates with a family festival on Saturday, a curling bonspiel, a chili cook-off, skating, a darts tournament, and more.

The Groundhog Day tradition in Wiarton dates back to 1956. The Town of South Bruce Peninsula says it was started by a “spirited individual” named Mac McKenzie who had “a desire to shake off the winter blues and bring some warmth to the community.”

Groundhog Day was marked in the U.S., with the first prediction by Punxsutawney Phil in 1886, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s website reports.

The first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob was made on February 2, 1887.

Photos by Town of Wiarton/Wiarton Echo

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