Groundhog bites the dust

Wiarton Willie, Canada’s master meteorologist, is dead. The psychic rodent passed away quietly on Sunday, tragically missing his annual day in the spotlight (or shadow) when he would pronounce on the prospects of spring for anxious Canadians.

The beloved Willie, who was a spry 23 years old (176 in groundhog years) died in his sleep of natural causes, according to early reports. His death was kept secret until yesterday, when Groundhog Festival officials in the Ontario town of Wiarton released the sad news.

There have already been accusations of a cover-up in Willie’s sudden demise, with some observers noting that Willie’s American rival, Punxsutawney Phil, is now the “lone groundhog” working in meteorology. Phil, who predicted an early spring this morning from his grassy knoll in Pennsylvania, offered no comment on Willie’s death.

Phil was the subject of a U.S. Grand Jury investigation last year, in which he denied accusations of any involvement in the death of Peter (“Big Pete”) Pagliano. The prognosticating parrot died mysteriously in his sleep in Dallas, on the eve of signing a multi-million dollar contract with the Weather Channel.

Meanwhile in Wiarton, oundhog Festival officials have already begun a quiet search for Willie’s replacement. Local rumour has it that Willie’s illegitimate son Whoantee lives in a trailer park in the area, and could be easily convinced to take up the torch, for the right price. Whoantee will undoubtedly do a repeat performance of his father’s work, over and over again, but in our hearts, we are bound to repeat the timeless phrase: “Willie, we hardly knew ye.”