Opening Speech 2024
Delivered by Benjamin Torcellini at Duck Day.
Welcome, welcome, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, dogs and cats, and everyone watching on the tube, and on the internet. Welcome to the 10th annual Duck Day.
184 years ago, there was a little brown fuzzy creature known as a groundhog in the small town of Morgantown Pennsylvania. James Morris wrote in his diary that day, “Today the Germans say the groundhog comes out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he returns in and remains there for 40 days.” Many people, including the Pennsylvania Dutch, celebrate Candlemas, which is celebrated on the 40th day of the Christmas Season. With different calendars, it is celebrated on different days, but the Pennsylvania Dutch celebrated on February 2. These Dutch used a groundhog or hedgehog to tell them if the mischief of winter was almost over or not.
On February 2, 1887, a groundhog emerged from a hole in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
Nearly 140 years later, this event is still happening every year, but this groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, is not very accurate. He is a little brown rodent that rarely leaves his hole in the ground and never looks at the weather. As the great American author, Mark Twain, wrote in his famous Weather Speech, “There is a sumptuous variety about the New England weather that compels the stranger's admiration—and regret. The weather is always doing something there; always attending strictly to business; always getting up new designs and trying them on the people to see how they will go.” Because of the difficulty of predicting in such a climate, the Torcellini brothers looked for a new, and more accurate weather predictor.
The answer to this problem was not a human, groundhog, or hedgehog, it was a duck. This Duck graduated from Stormy Heights Academy as the valeducktorian of his class. His astounding skills in preduckting the weather, and communicating it with humans, meant he was chosen to be the greatest weather preducker of all time. Now his faithful son follows in his web steps, and he is the greatest weather preducktor alive.
We would like to give a humongous thank you to 1st Selectman Deb Richards and Selectman Ashlyn Ellsworth for permission to host this event; State Representative Pat Boyd and State Senator Jeff Gordon for years of support, my brothers, and founders of Duck Day; Micah and Isaac Torcellini, who are managing the website, social media, and press releases from college. We would like to remember the late Carol Davidge who gave this event wings to fly. We would also like to give an immense thank you to our volunteers: Pastor Tim Howard as the director of technology; Adam Minor as our photographer; Aaron Minor; Timothy James Howard; and Karissa Howard as duck handlers; and all who have attended Duck Day over the past 10 years.
AND NOW WE PRESENT . . .
Scramble the Duck!
Please do not use flash on your cameras during the prediction as it could cause false shadows. Thank You!