HAWTHORNE, NJ - In the morning, on February 2, 2020, Punxsutawney Phil, one of the most famous groundhogs in the country, was yanked from his subterranean home amid the great and bizarre fanfare that comes each year.  Throngs had gathered in person, and more still watched on television, to see whether the confused rodent could predict the North American continent's meteorological behavior for the coming months by seeing, or not seeing, his shadow.

He did not.  Having done his annual duty for mankind, wholly unaware of the monumental role he played, the critter was returned to his home and spring would surely be around the corner.

Whether or not one chooses to place faith in the zoological ritual is a matter of personal preference and belief, but what cannot be denied is the relative mildness of the winter Hawthorne has thus far experienced.  Phil seems to have been validated for now.  Presidents' Day was no exception, and local families took advantage of the day to make the most of the outdoors in spring-like conditions.

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Whether it was taking in the sights of the borough's wildlife at Arnold's Pond, or playing on the new soccer field in Goffle Brook Park, Hawthorne residents might be just as confused as Phil as to what the weather will do next.  But unlike the groundhog who lives in a dark burrow, the citizens of Hawthorne have a picturesque borough of their own to pass the season, regardless of what nature has in the coming days and weeks.

Photos by Judy Kopitar.

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