Buckeye Chuck-A Groundhog's Day field trip
The Back Story
This past weekend the Rempe family went on an adventure to go see Buckeye Chuck, Ohio’s own groundhog. Last year, I was looking for some family fun ideas to do on Groundhog’s day, since February can get kind of dreary. I was debating going to Pennsylvania, to visit Punxsutawney Phil, but thought the trip would be a little long for us. I was talking to my mom who works at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Developmental Center, and she mentioned she had heard that Ohio had it’s own groundhog: Buckeye Chuck. Since Groundhog’s day was on a Saturday this year, we decided to make a go of it. Before we left, I went to Groundhogstuff.com and purchased some stuffed groundhogs for Abe and Cal and some buttons for all of us. I also got the video of “Jack’s Big Music Show”, the one with the Groundhog’s day episode, that had Jon Stewart in it, to watch in the car as we traveled. A few days before, I printed out some Groundhog’s day activity sheets and read the book “It’s Groundhog’s Day” by Steven Kroll.
We ended up leaving for Marion, Ohio the night before Groundhog’s day. It was about a two-and-a-half hour drive; on the other side of Columbus. We went ahead and scouted out the location of the radio station when we arrived in town just to make sure we knew where we were going to be in the morning. The events were taking place between 7:00 & 8:00 a.m., with Buckeye Chuck’s official predictions occurring at 7:39 a.m. Marion has been hosting this event since 1979, and has a tradition of handing out free SPAM burgers and hot chocolate to all in attendance. We knew it was going to be cold, around 12 degrees, so we arrived at the radio station at 7:15, and there were tons of cars already there! We were able to park in the lot of the church next door, and upon arrival, there were already about 75 people in attendance! In fact, the guys handing out SPAM burgers were already out of buns, and any freebies had already been distributed, including Buckeye Chuck t-shirts, even though we did each walk away with our own SPAM magnet. There was still free hot chocolate and coffee available for all those gathered, and the mayor of Marion, and the crew from the radio station were on a stage giving a running commentary. One 12 year old girl was celebrating her birthday, and her parents had woken her up at 4:00 a.m. to travel from Xenia, Ohio to see Buckeye Chuck!
If you are interested in going, try to plan for when it will be warm. If it is cold, I would wait to closer to the time of the actual prediction to go, and then get pictures after most of the crowd leaves. If you are interested in the freebies, SPAM sandwiches, or being close to the stage, get there before 7:00 a.m. This also may be a good time to get pictures. Also, if it is cold, dress like you are going sledding or skiing. Also, please note that Buckeye Chuck is a wild groundhog, while Punxsutawney Phil is a tame groundhog, that lives in the public library. So, they do not actually get Buckeye Chuck out of his cage, and ask for everyone to keep their fingers out of the cage. We also picked a hotel with a pool, so Abe and Cal could swim. Overall, a really fun time. I would be up for going again!
During this adventure, we also went to the Warren G. Harding house and tomb, which are located in Marion. We then traveled to Ohio Caverns, and Young’s Jersey Dairy.