Jessica Lilly Published

Concord Charlie Agrees with Punxsutawney Phil for Groundhog Day Prediction


The last few weeks, most of West Virginia has endured bitter cold and snowy weather. Many residents were hoping the famed furry friends would bring predictions of an early Spring.

On Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania predicted six more weeks of winter after seeing his shadow. But French Creek Freddie emerged from the West Virginia Wildlife Center in Upshur County and did not see his shadow. According to Groundhog Day tradition, that means an early spring.

Perhaps the dispute can be settled with the folk tale friend, Concord Charlie. 

The Groundhog friend in Athens shared his predictions to interum president Dr. Kendra Boggess via cell phone. 

“You came out yesterday (Groundhog Day, Feb. 2) and you saw your shadow,” she confirmed with Charlie. She then told the furry forecaster, “Go back in your burrow.”  

The Concord Charlie tradition was originated in 1978 by the late Professor R.T. “Tom” Hill. As chairman of both the geography department and the Appalachian Studies program at Concord, Hill started the Groundhog Day Breakfast as a means to celebrate a bit of Appalachian heritage and highlight the program.

Concord tradition shares the spotlight with the Grand Groundhog Watcher, an individual who has positively impacted life and culture in West Virginia.  

This year, Greg Puckett, a native southern West Virginian, 1993 Concord graduate, and one of professor Hill’s former students is the recipient.

“He taught me a lot about Appalachian tradition and Appalachian culture and Appalachian studies,” Puckett said. “That sort of got me involved in a lot of the different things and a lot of the levels and understanding our rich history and what it means.”

Puckett is Executive Director of Community Connections and a key player with the local Creating Opportunities For Youth (COFY) community coalition. His work includes substance abuse prevention efforts among young people and their families.

Concord University student Tyler Jackson contributed to this story.

Jessica Lilly can be reached at 304.384.5981, or by email You can also follow her on twitter: @WVJessicaYLilly.

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