A resounding cheer swept across the crowd huddled for warmth at Gazebo Park last Sunday morning when Malverne Mayor Patricia McDonald announced that Malverne Mel, the village’s favorite critter and wise prognosticator, hadn’t seen his shadow and predicted an early spring.
At the village’s 19th annual Groundhog Day celebration on Feb. 2, hosted by the Malverne Civic Association and the Malverne Historical and Preservation Society, guests of all ages came from near and far to hear Mel’s mighty prognostication, some more thrilled than others to see the end of winter coming.
While enjoying some piping hot chocolate and donut holes, Malverne resident Chloe, 10, said she was hoping for six more weeks of winter so she could have a few more snowball fights.
Though her sister Hannah, 6, said the warmer weather can’t come soon enough. “I just want an early summer so there won’t be any more school,” she said.
Dozens of people attended the early-morning event, where local radio station KJOY 98.3 operated a booth and the Banjo Rascals performed live music. The festivities continued at Crossroads Farm at Grossman’s, where artwork made by local children participating in the Malverne Mel poster contest went on display. Attendees also got a visit from the six-foot Malverne Mel mascot.
Among this year’s guests were State Assemblyman Brian Curran, Senior Town Councilman Anthony Santino, Town Clerk Nasrin Ahmad, Valley Stream Mayor Edward Fare, Pastor Frank Parisi of Our Lady of Lourdes Church and Pastor Dan Quagliata of The Bridge Church in Malverne.
Since the village’s first Groundhog Day celebration nearly two decades ago, Mayor Joe Cantoneri, who started the tradition in 1996 during his term as mayor, said he believes it has turned into a wonderful event and hopes it will carry on for the nexttwenty years.
“You can see the enthusiasm of the people here — it’s something we should perpetuate,” he said.