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COVID to limit Dunkirk Dave appearance

OBSERVER File Photo Bob Will is pictured with Dunkirk Dave as he is deciding on a late winter or early spring in 2011. He decided for spring.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of events and traditions to be put on hold in the last 10 month. One of the events joining that lengthy list is Dunkirk Dave’s yearly seasonal prediction.

Dunkirk Dave is the second longest predicting groundhog in the world, and an iteration of Dunkirk Dave, joined by handler Bob Will, has been predicting a short winter or long spring for the last 53 years. The decision to postpone the public appearance was made to keep Will, Dave’s other handler Bill Verge, anyone who would have been in attendance at the event, and Dunkirk Dave safe from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Dunkirk Dave will not be able to come out and check his shadow at daybreak, because no masks are available for groundhogs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dave’s handlers want to respect the regulations put in place because of the virus,” Will said. “Some people might get this message and arrive at Dave’s house, but Dunkirk Dave will not be available to observe anywhere.”

Just because there will be no public appearance by Dunkirk Dave does not mean his prediction won’t happen at all. Rather, it will just happen in private and on Dave’s own time.

“Dave will be allowed to look for his shadow sometime later on Groundhog Day,” Will said. “He’ll be allowed to sleep in, usually we wake him up early, but there’s no rush for him.”

Dunkirk Dave is now 20 years old, which is almost double the lifespan of a normal groundhog held in captivity. Sleeping in is something Dave has become used to as he’s gotten older, and is something Will knows Dave will appreciate. Whether or not Dave sees his shadow will be reported to the OBSERVER, as soon as Dave knows whether or not he sees his shadow.

Will has been rehabilitating groundhogs since he was a child, and has a lot of experience handling groundhogs and other woodland animals, such as squirrels and opossums. He finds the time to do this on top of his bustling typewriter repair business he also operates. Will doesn’t want to feel responsible for the spread of the virus, which is why he made the decision to not do a public appearance.

“I thought it’d be better to be on the safe side,” Will said. “I don’t want people to be angry, and I hope people understand. It’s too much to even think about what could happen. We get a lot of kids that show up and people from other states, and I don’t want to be responsible for it spreading.”

More information about groundhogs, Dunkirk Dave, Will, and Dave’s past predictions can be found at dunkirkdave.com.

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