Concord Charlie Sees His Shadow; Announcement Made at 28th Annual Groundhog Day Celebration
Athens, W.Va. - Concord Charlie saw his shadow early Thursday morning, according to Concord University President, Dr. Jerry Beasley, forecasting six more weeks of winter for the region. The forecast came at Concord’s 28th annual Groundhog Day Celebration held in the Student Center Ballroom.
The ceremony began with a welcome from Dr. Joseph Manzo, professor of geography, thanking those who helped to coordinate the event. W.T. “Tom” Bone III provided the invocation.
“You instilled in us our inquisitive nature, our unique abilities to analyze our environment in advanced scientific ways—and some not so scientific. Joining together at this esteemed institution, surrounded by spirited inquiry, earnest research, high technology, and the wisdom of the ages—we acknowledge that most of us are utterly clueless about the weather,” Bone shared. “Therefore, we beseech that you will absolve in advance, any of those who may, in the course of these proceedings utter any fib or truth.”
James Britt, of Crab Orchard, serves as president of the Investment Club at Concord. He said that, “Concord Charlie can do something better than predict the weather.” He shared with the grand groundhog watchers some graphs of Concord Charlie’s predictions for and effects on the market indices. Britt pointed out that while Charlie does not have much effect on the Dow Jones Industrial or the S&P 500, his decision was expected to affect the transportation and utilities industries, since the weather plays a large factor in those.
President Beasley, before introducing the Grand Groundhog Watcher, briefed the gathering on his early morning conversation with Charlie and noted his continued astonishment in the fact that each year the media continues to question the existence of the furry groundhog.
He mentioned how Charlie tended to think that February 2 was all about him. But, Beasley said, several people should be recognized on that day, especially those with birthdays. He then asked for those attending the event who had birthdays to be recognized with the traditional birthday song. Beasley informed the furry prognosticator that Garth Brooks’ birthday is on February 2, but Charlie was not impressed because he said that he was the inspiration for his hit song, “Friends in Low Places.”
Beasley also reported that Charlie spoke about this year’s Grand Groundhog Watcher, Kate Long, noting that she had more writing accomplishments than his “teeth and tail tied together.” He then introduced the guest.
Long is the writing coach for the Charleston Gazette. The Fayette County native has won national awards for news writing, fiction, songwriting and radio features. She won the 2004 Gerald Loeb Award from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management for her Charleston Gazette series on the high cost of health care and insurance. Her 1977 book on special education won the Delta Kappa Gamma International Award. A Public Radio International piece on Robert Kennedy in West Virginia won the 1999 National Headliner Best of Show Award. Her “Who’ll Watch the Homeplace” became the 1994 International Bluegrass Music Association Song of the Year.
Long shared her remarks through song with titles such as “Roothog or Die,” “Don’t Try and Dump It When Nobody Is Around,” “I Ain’t Got Much Money So What Did I Do Wrong?,” “Ain’t I Been Punished Enough?,” and she concluded with her award-winning song, “Who’ll Watch the Homeplace.”
Former groundhog watchers have included politicians, retired Concord employees, entertainers, military heroes, pastors, writers and others. A. James Manchin (now deceased), former secretary of state and state treasurer of West Virginia was the first Grand Groundhog Watcher.
Students who assisted with the event were Adam Coon of Comfort, Ben Hatfield of Brenton, and Ruth Clausen of Franklin.
PHOTO: Grand Groundhog Watcher Kate Long performs her original songs.
PHOTO: Kate Long with her framed “Grand Groundhog Watcher” certificate.
CONCORD UNIVERSITY NOTES: Jesse Call, a junior majoring in political science and history, wrote this press release. His hometown is Pocahontas, Va.