Frying Pan Farm Park employee Catherine Vaughan shows Mandy, the farm’s pet rabbit during the information session at the park’s visitor center on Groundhog Day.
Photo by Ryan Dunn
"They are like little lawnmowers, so when it is spring, they eat everything they can," said Frying Pan Park naturalist Shannon Morley. "When it is summer, they eat everything they can. And when it is fall they still eat. But in winter they rest or hibernate." Morely was giving a presentation to families on groundhogs that reside on the park grounds.
Groundhog Day is celebrated on Feb. 2. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then spring will come early; however, if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and go back into its burrow, and winter will continue for six more weeks.
"We had a really great turnout this year, and this year the program actually was on Groundhog Day," said park employee Joe Sawyer. Over 75 kids and parents attended the event which took place at the Frying Pan Park Visitors Center on 2709 West Ox Road. After a presentation on groundhogs by Morely, children had the opportunity to participate in some craft-work and visit a groundhog hole near the Visitors Center.
"We run this event every year, the families and kids really enjoy it," said park Visitor Services Manager Michelle Edwards. "I am glad we had such nice weather." Hot chocolate drinks were provided for the event, and participants got to meet Mandy, the farm’s pet rabbit. "It is a beautiful day," said naturalist Shannon Morely as she escorted visitors towards the groundhog burrow.
"I think it is good they have these seasonal events, the kids really enjoy it and the staff are excellent," said Tammy Loverdos, who drove in with her children from Hollin Hall near Mount Vernon. "We were tired of being stuck inside all day," said Reston resident Mike Dadley who drove his family in to attend the event. "Frying Pan is a great park, a farm in the middle of the suburbs. I hope they do not ever sell to developers."
Earlier that day groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter during the 128th annual Groundhog Day festivities Sunday in Punxsutawney, Pa. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada, although Phil has an accuracy rate of just 39 percent.
"I learned a lot about groundhogs today," said Kelly McArter, a Herndon resident who brought her two children to attend the event. "It is nice that many of the events at this park are free or at a low price." After her presentation naturalist Shannon Morley answered questions about groundhogs. "This park has always been a great place to see groundhogs," said Morley.
To learn more about Frying Pan Farm Park and other upcoming events visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/fryingpanpark/.