Groundhog Day in New York City

Learn about Staten Island Chuck and Groundhog Day traditions in New York City

Staten Island Chuck - Groundhog at the Staten Island Zoo
••• Staten Island Chuck - Groundhog at the Staten Island Zoo. Staten Island Zoo

The legend of Groundhog Day is based on an old Scottish couplet: "If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year." With that in mind, groundhogs across the country (most famously Punxsutawney Phil) emerge from their dwellings on February 2 and judge whether winter is waning or we have six more weeks to go. The very first Groundhog Day took place in 1887 at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Although not nearly as famous as Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil, New York City has its own groundhogs and events to celebrate Groundhog Day.

  • The Staten Island Zoo is home to groundhog Staten Island Chuck. At 7 a.m. on February 2nd, Staten Island Chuck will make his official prediction. Staten Island Chuck will be making appearances throughout the day. The ceremony is free to attend. You'll want to arrive in time for the gates that open at 6:30 a.m. for Chuck's big reveal at 7 a.m. Usually, but not always, the mayor attends the event. The groundhog has actually bitten the mayor in the past (Mayor Mike Bloomberg in 2009) and in 2014, Mayor Bill DiBlasio famously dropped the groundhog (and the groundhog died a few months later.) Full details are available on the Staten Island Zoo web site.
  • The Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg, Brooklyn will have a special screening of Groundhog Day, the 1993 movie starring Bill Murray on February 2. The screening is taking place on February 2, 2017 at 9:30 p.m. The theater opens 30 minutes before showtime, and although you can buy tickets in advance, seating is on a first-come, first-served basis, so they recommend arriving 45 minutes before showtime for the best seating. This is a dine-in movie theater (they even serve alcohol!) and they feature a variety of first-run and rep movies. Food and drink are served to patrons right at their seats, making for a fun dinner and a movie experience. Their menu offers a great selection of choices from typical movie popcorn to more substantial fare.

    Interestingly, 2017 will also see the opening of Groundhog Day on Broadway, which will move to New York City's August Wilson Theatre from London's Old Vic Theatre in April 2017. The musical adaptation of the 1993 Harold Ramis film features production talent from Matilda, and the London production got a wonderful review from the New York Times.

    The Queens Zoo used to have prairie dogs that played the role of weather predictors on Groundhog Day. Their names were “Flushing Meadows Phil” and “Corona Kate” but the zoo no longer has prairie dogs, so they don't usually have any special events for Groundhog Day.