Groundhog Day took a somber turn in Quebec Thursday when organizers announced that the groundhog, Fred la Marmotte, had died during hibernation. Roberto Blondin delivered the sad news after 40 minutes of music and dancing at the event in Val-d'Espoir, the CBC reports. "In life, the only thing that's certain is that nothing is certain," he told the audience of around 250 people. "Well, this year it's true. It's true and it's unfortunate. I announce to you the death of Fred." A child wearing a groundhog hat was called to the stage, handed a toy stuffed groundhog, and asked to make the prediction. He predicted six more weeks of winter.
Blondin said he discovered Fred was dead when he went to wake him for the Groundhog Day ritual, which was taking place with an audience for the first time since Feb. 2020, reports the Montreal Gazette. Fred lived in a barn that was gradually heated up to wake him from hibernation. "We take a lot of care with him; we have a veterinarian there," said event spokesperson Renée Laurendeau. He said Fred "gave awesome services, awesome prediction—80% success rate but I guess it had to come to an end." Fred, the second groundhog in the event's 14-year history, will be replaced by one of his sons next year. (In Pennsylvania, organizers said Punxsutawney Phil also predicted a longer winter.)