By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — KENMORE — If Kenmore Kate is correct, all this snow will soon be a thing of the past.
Several dozen people braved the ice and cold to gather Saturday morning at Kenmore's Village Green for the second Groundhog Day celebration, sponsored by the Kenmore Village Improvement Society.
As the bundled-up crowd huddled against the chilly, snow-laden wind, KVIS representatives gave away chocolate groundhogs and vouchers for $2 breakfasts at the Kenmore Village Restaurant and the Plaka Restaurant. Among the group were Aiden O'Malley, 5, and his mom Jill O'Malley, who were waiting patiently for Kate to make her appearance.
"I think she's not going to see (her shadow), because of the weather," Aiden said, adding that he'd prefer that she did. "I want more winter because last year, we didn't get snow. And I like snow."
After student Erin Day, 8, read a poem about groundhogs and Mayor Patrick Mang and other village officials were introduced, KVIS President Melissa Foster led the crowd in a chant to wake Kate and summon her out of her specially made "groundhog habitat" for a prediction.
And right on cue, Kenmore Kate — a groundhog of unusual size — emerged and selected one of two scrolls, which Mang read and then declared that Kate, "seer of seers, prognosticator of prognosticators," did not see her shadow ... and that spring was right around the corner.
Layla Dio, 5,and her little sister Quinn were pleased with the prediction.
"I wanted spring," Layla said, "because I want to swim in my grandma's pool."
After the main event, many of the watchers trooped into the Municipal Building for photos with Kate. While the crowd was much smaller than last year's (when the weather was much milder), Foster said that she was pleased with how things turned out.
"I'm so glad the weather cleared up a little bit," she said. "It was a fun time."
By the time the celebration was done for most of the attendees, it was just beginning for Shawn and Rachel Lis of Colvin Boulevard. They started the day with a pilgrimage to the Village Green for Kate's prediction, then were returning home to continue with a Groundhog Day party at their home for 25 to 30 people.
"I don't know how much of a turnout we're going to get, but we plan big," Shawn Lis said. "So now I have to go home and snowblow."
They were planning a parade from their home to the Village Green, but the day's weather put an end to that, he said. "Nobody wanted to because of the snow. Maybe next year."
The famed Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania and, more locally, Dunkirk Dave, both also predicted an early spring.
Call it a groundhog hat trick.