February 2 is Groundhog Day and it's one of the strangest and endearing things about life here in Canada. We like to grab a groundhog and ask them to predict the weather for us. In the prairies, we took the quirkiest holiday ever and made it even weirder. Groundhog Day in Alberta is actually just a guy in a mascot costume but everyone still loves him anyway.

Balzac Billy's annual prediction is a winter tradition and it's more than just a guy in a costume. It's an event that brings a community together.

The event took place on February 2, 2020, at the Blue Grass Garden Centre in Calgary, Alberta. Balzac Billy is the official mascot of the Balzac Business Community Association just outside of Calgary.

People came out early on a Sunday morning in the cold to eat breakfast together, celebrate, and to find out what the groundhog would say.

Sheena Haffner, marketing manager at the Blue Grass Garden Centre, said to Airdrie Today that everyone is looking forward to spring. Groundhog Day gives people "a little glimpse of hope – that light at the end of the tunnel – that spring is coming soon."

Why don't they use a real groundhog? Global News said that you'll only find groundhogs in Peace River Country and you won't find then in southern Alberta.

"So, lacking a real groundhog, Alberta uses Balzac Billy — which is a person in a groundhog costume — to predict when spring will come," said Global News.

If groundhogs see their shadow, then it's going to be six more weeks of winter. If they don't see their shadow, then there will be an early spring. 

Balzac Billy has predicted an early spring for 2020.

Anyone who loves a bit of local colour or even Bill Murray's Groundhog Day film will love to follow the predictions of the groundhogs across Canada.

Things are equally adorably strange in nearby Manitoba. A puppet named Manitoba Merv is used instead of a real groundhog.

This year, he's made the same prediction as Balzac Billy and claims an early spring is on the way.

The Weather Network reported that neither "the Manitoba puppet nor the Alberta mascot saw their shadows on the Prairies last year."

 

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