Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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January 30, 2014

STROLL AROUND NEWFANE: Newfane church is planning Valentine event

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — What groundhog in his right mind would even come out of his hole in this weather? If the world’s most famous forecaster, Punxsutawney Phil, sees his shadow on Sunday, we don’t even want to know it. Let us at least hope this will all be over soon.

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Everything you always wanted to know about groundhogs is in this week’s trivia. The average groundhog is 20 inches long and normally weighs from 12 to 15 pounds. Punxsutawney Phil weighs about 20 pounds and is 22 inches long. Groundhogs are covered with coarse grayish hairs tipped with brown or sometimes dull red. They have short ears, a short tail, short legs, and are surprisingly quick, with exceptionally strong jaws. A groundhog can whistle when it is alarmed. Groundhogs also whistle in the spring when they begin courting. Insects do not bother groundhogs and germs pretty much leave them alone. They are resistant to the plagues that periodically wipe out large numbers of wild animals. One reason for this is their cleanliness. Groundhogs are one of the few animals that really hibernate. Hibernation is not just a deep sleep. It is actually a deep coma, where the body temperature drops to a few degrees above freezing, the heart barely beats, the blood scarcely flows, and breathing nearly stops. Young groundhogs are usually born in mid-April or May, and by July they are able to go out on their own. The size of the litter is four to nine. A baby groundhog is called a kit or a cub, and a groundhog’s life span is normally 6 to 8 years.

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It’s kickoff time! There are a lot of Relay For Life participants in Newfane, working all year round to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The 2014 Relay season has a Star-Spangled Relay theme and the kick-off celebration is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Roy B. Kelley Elementary School cafeteria, 610 East High St., Lockport. Participants will celebrate 2013 Relay For Life successes and get ready to break $2 million in 2014. There will be coffee, breakfast pizza, fruit, baked goods and more. Everybody is invited. All team captain materials will be available; veteran and new participants are urged to attend. The theme this year is “Star Spangled Relay,” so wear your red, white and blue with your Relay purple.

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