STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - Staten Island Chuck says New Yorkers should expect a short winter after he failed to see his shadow Thursday morning.
"He's the eternal optimist, but I think this year he's going to come through for us," one man said about the possibly clairvoyant woodchuck.
Filling in for Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James made the call at the Staten Island Zoo: Chuck did not see his shadow, which, as legend has it, means spring is right around the corner.
But Chuck's Pennsylvania counterpart, Punxsutawney Phil, had the opposite prediction and saw his shadow, calling for six more weeks of winter.
"Usually Staten Island Chuck is always right. So I want to go with him again this year," one woman said at the zoo Thursday.
Mayor Bill de Blasio skipped the ceremony for the second-straight year.
In 2014, the mayor dropped the groundhog and it died days later.
Last year, the Staten Island Zoo's resident prognosticator also predicted an early spring.
The Staten Island Zoo resident is accurate 80 percent of the time.
Chuck's big moment attracts hundreds of early risers to the zoo, creating a festive atmosphere.
Deputy Borough President Ed Burke, famous for his wonderfully cheeesy groundhog puns, says for kids, having this groundhog's burrow in their borough is a learning experience.
"All the questions are about what does it eat, how does it live, it really is a great ambassador for wildlife," Burke said.
Danny Rubin, who wrote the screenplay for the Bill Murray film comedy "Groundhog Day," soon to be a Broadway musical, was also on-hand Thursday morning. He has a more skeptical view of the groundhog tradition.
"Nobody has any idea what's going to happen with the weather," Rubin said, laughing. "That's my prediction. Who knows? But I guess they have about a fifty-fifty chance, and that's not too bad.
To determine if Chuck's prediction is truly accurate, the responsibility lies with students from P.S. 45 on Staten Island. They will monitor the temperatures each day through spring.
Every day above 40 degrees counts towards early spring. Every day that is below 40 degrees counts for more winter.