What a difference a few years can make.
“I’m the envy of everyone today,” says a sleepy but delighted Wyatt Whistlepig, Jr., chief organizer of The Park’s Groundhog Day celebrations.
Less than a week before one of the biggest events in The Park’s calendar, The Department of Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations roused Whistlepig from the depths of hibernation to tell him he was the beneficiary of some last minute accounting.
“It’s a windfall — a small fortune — for us here,” says Whistlepig. “And we really need it. The last few years have been very difficult for us,” he says.
While three straight years of budget cuts have sent Whistlepig scrambling to find inexpensive ways to do right by the important holiday, this year’s boost in funding means he now has a lot more leeway, financially speaking. But, not a lot more time.
“These events are planned well in advance and making last minute changes isn’t easy,” Whistlepig says.
In the space of a few days, he will have to order more food and more decorations. And, even more importantly, he says, he’d like to hire more musicians and other performers.
“In many ways, they’re the lifeblood of the festival,” he says.
Whistlepig, who has been organizing The Park’s Groundhog Day celebrations for the past ten years, says he’s never grown tired of the work nor cynical about the event.
“This holiday is a major Park occasion. It signals the coming of Spring, the renewal of life, the hope of the future. It’s not just about a prediction; it’s about a certainty — the certainty that we have survived, and that we will thrive, no matter what we face,” Whistlepig proclaims.
And, as he is every year, Whistlepig is determined to make it a memorable event for all Park Animals.
“This is not a celebration to miss,” he says. “It is a very important part of The Park’s social season, and it speaks to our sense of ourselves as Park citizens. No one should miss it.”