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Staten Island Chuck Predicts An Early Spring

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With Mayor Michael Bloomberg at his side, Staten Island Chuck predicted an early spring this morning.

A dedicated group of fans gathered in the freezing rain at the Staten Island Zoo to hear the prediction.

The groundhog was lifted by the mayor after being prodded out of his burrow by trumpets.

"There was no shadow," said Staten Island Zoo curator Peter Laline. "He was not afraid, did not retreat back into his burrow, so it was great."

"You know, Chuck has been right 80 percent of the time," said interim zoo director Kenneth Mitchell. "If he was on the Yankees, he would be batting .800."

Prior to the announcement, the mayor, who has been heavily criticized for the city's response to the December blizzard, made it clear that the chance Chuck would see his shadow would be very slim.

"I want you to all look up. Does anybody see blue? Kind of hard to get a shadow if you can't see," said Bloomberg. "So we're doing very well with that one. Number two, Staten Island Zoo is sort of in a valley. The sun doesn't come up until noon. It's 7:30 in the morning. We have that going for us, as well."

In Pennsylvania, Chuck's longtime rival Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow either.

New Yorkers who heard Chuck’s prediction said they had faith in the groundhog, and hope that he is right, because they have already had enough of the winter.

"I kind of like the snow, but I'll take the heat any day,” said one New Yorker. “I'm done with winter, especially on a day like today, rain and sleet, so I'm done. Chuck is right. He's right, guaranteed, get your shorts out."

Last year, Chuck predicted an early spring, too. Unfortunately, he was wrong.

Either way, Chuck must be coming up in the world. Celebrity baker Buddy Valstro, the "Cake Boss," baked him a special treat. Not too shabby, especially for a rodent.

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