NASHUA -- If forecaster Rob Carolan is correct with his prediction, when Punxsutawney Phil is pulled out of hibernation on Saturday, an early spring could be just around the corner.
The infamous groundhog will be put to the test at 7:30 a.m., and with a cloudy and cold forecast on tap for Saturday, Carolan is taking bets that the cute little woodchuck will not see his shadow.
"This year it is looking like his shadow will hide," Carolan told a crowd attending the 13th Annual Granite State Groundhog Gathering Breakfast hosted by The Salvation Army.
Continuing with his predictions, Carolan also anticipates that the Red Sox will win at least 80 games this year, he told the cheering fans in attendance Friday at the Crowne Plaza.
Dressed in a fancy top hat and overcoat -- traditional attire for the fanfare that will take place Saturday in Punxsutawney, Penn. -- Jamie Trowbridge of Yankee Magazine shared his experience with trying to trap a groundhog lingering in his vegetable garden last year.
"I learned that melon is crack for groundhogs," joked Trowbridge, saying once he learned the fruit trick, the large rodent was fairly easy to capture and relocate to the top of Temple Mountain.
Amid the silly weather predictions and groundhog jokes, there was a sincere reason for Friday's event where several dedicated individuals were honored for their service to The Salvation Army.
Linda Leedberg received the organization's Angel Award, recognizing her for countless hours of volunteerism.
"We depend very heavily on volunteers," explained Major Norma Moore, adding Leedberg gives of her time all year long to help with various Salvation Army programs, especially during the holiday season.
Brian Rhodes, deputy fire chief in Nashua, was honored as Advisory Board Member of the Year, while New Balance in Merrimack and St. Christopher School in Nashua both received Community Sponsor Awards for making significant contributions to the Salvation Army last December.
Former Gov. John Lynch was named Citizen of the Year by the organization, which thanked him for his continuous support.
"He knows the importance of what we do," Major David Moore said of Lynch.
Last year, The Salvation Army served nearly 2,500 individuals, provided 780 meals and offered nearly 6,000 snacks during various building fires, hazardous material incidents and disaster drills, according to Nashua Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, adding representatives from the organization trained more than 800 hours with Nashua Fire Rescue.
While most people think of the kettle ringers during Christmas time, Lozeau said there is much more to The Salvation Army that deserves to be recognized.
Jennifer Buskey of Nashua agreed, saying her family has been blessed by the generous donations The Salvation Army has offered her children, including clothing and toys during the holidays, and providing her daughter with a safe afterschool program and an engaging summer day camp.
Nearly 800 families and more than 1,800 children were provided services from The Salvation Army during the holiday season last year, which also helped to send 52 children to summer day camp in Nashua.
"This room is full of people who have needed help from time to time," said Gov. Maggie Hassan, encouraging individuals to pitch in and assist others, which she said will enable New Hampshire to continue being a place where opportunities are available for everyone.