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January 31. 2014 8:13PM

Groundhog Breakfast features awards, donations


Pennichuck Chuck and Penny participate in the breakfast festivities. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA — If predictions are correct, Punxsutawney Phil — the popular groundhog from Pennsylvania that makes headlines every Feb. 2 — will leave his burrow on Sunday and probably fail to see his shadow.

"This Sunday, I am not expecting Phil to see his shadow," announced Rob Carolan of Hometown Forecast Services during the 14th annual Granite State Groundhog Breakfast.

Without a shadow, the prediction is that spring will come early. However, if the small and furry animal does see its shadow, it is believed that winter will last another six weeks.

While many New Englanders may be pleased with Carolan's expectation that the groundhog will not see his shadow, not everyone is as optimistic.

According to Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, Punxsutawney Phil has been wrong with his predictions five out of the last six years, meaning his accuracy is only about 16 percent.

But it wasn't all weather talk on Friday for the annual groundhog gathering Friday at the Crowne Plaza. The fundraising event, hosted by the Salvation Army, collects money to help less fortunate children throughout the Greater Nashua region attend the Salvation Army's summer camp.

"We are only as strong as our weakest link," Lozeau told the audience, thanking the Salvation Army for providing a safe and engaging opportunity for children each summer.

Without the generous donations, families such as Kristen Hennessy's would struggle trying to find a place where their children can call home during the summer months when school is on break.

Hennessy's daughter, 8, has been participating in the local summer camp for several years. Although she could not afford the entire tuition for summer camp, program organizers still allowed Hennessy to continue sending her daughter.

"This program has been a godsend for her," said Hennessy, describing it as a positive, educational, enlightening and fun program.

In the past few years, the annual groundhog breakfast has raised a combined $100,000 to send children to summer camp, and Friday's event was no exception.

Numerous participants each pledged $100 toward the fundraising campaign, while others donated $500 and one person even spent $650 on an autographed jersey from Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes.

"When we care for each other, we all get stronger," said Gov. Maggie Hassan, who also made a generous donation.

In addition to the fundraising, several people were recognized on Friday for their dedication and commitment to the Salvation Army and its various programs.

Two community sponsor awards were given to MI-BOX and Kathy and Bob Williams. The annual Angel Award was presented to John Farrer, a Hudson business owner who donated 30 bicycles toward the organization's Christmas Bike Brigade. Triangle Credit Union was honored with the annual bell ringer award, and Edward "Jody" Gage was recognized as the Salvation Army Citizen of the Year.

"I am honored and humbled to be the recipient of this honor," said Gage, co-owner of Fortin Gage Flowers in Nashua.

Gage is active in the Nashua community with the local Rotary Club, the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce and the Front Door Agency.

khoughton@newstote.com


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