"Groundhog Day stars: Towns throughout North America are known to have winter-predicting groundhogs. The most famous is Punxsutawney Phil of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (which appeared in the movie Groundhog Day). There is also "Brandon Bob" of Brandon, Manitoba, "Staten Island Chuck" in New York, "Balzac Billy" in Alberta, "General Beauregard Lee" in Lilburn, Georgia, "Shubenacadie Sam" in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, Two Rivers Tunnel in Cape Breton and "Gary the Groundhog" in Kleinburg, Ontario. - Wikipedia
A week ago today was Groundhog Day. And Wikipedia says we have a groundhog in Brandon. Search Groundhog Day on the internet, and our city is named in the Top 5 places to see the rodent in early February each year. Apparently, he’s the second most popular Canadian groundhog in the North America. He’s famous everywhere but HERE. Even traditional media outlets are reporting this mysterious animal! But there’s a problem: someone has not told the residents of the rodent.
"Manitoba Merv is a puppet, so his soothsaying is somewhat suspicious. Then again, he called for a longer winter in 2011 and was right on the mark. Meanwhile, Brandon Bob, the groundhog in Manitoba’s second-largest city, delivered the same prediction as Merv after seeing no shadow."- CBC Manitoba.
"The first Groundhog Day took place in 1886, as a media stunt, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, home to the most notable of all weather-predicting marmots, the portly Punxsutawney Phil.
"First to pop up in Canada is Shubenacadie Sam, who lives at the Shubenacadie Provincial Wildlife Park in Nova Scotia. There’s also Brandon Bob and Manitoba Merv in Manitoba and Balzac Billy in Alberta." - CTV News.
"There are many other well-known groundhogs throughout Canada and the United States. These famous critters include Brandon Bob of Brandon, Man., and Pardon Me Pete of Tampa, Fla." - Toronto Sun.
"The "world's only psychic groundhog" Spanish Joe is in Spanish, Ontario, Gary the Groundhog in Kleinberg, Ontario, and Brandon Bob in Manitoba." Yahoo News.
What I find interesting is that Brandon isn’t famous for much around the world. The No. 1 Highway. The Wheat Kings. Wheat. A liquor baron and a writer for the Simpsons TV show once called Brandon home but just briefly. That’s the extent of our famous citizens.
But what if the world is celebrating a citizen, very few of us know anything about? After sharing this information with my morning co-host, Amber VanDale, she responded by saying "if we can spend $250,000 on a Canada Summer Games we knew were weren’t going to get, surely the city can find a few dollars to keep a rodent for some potential national attention."
She raises an interesting point. If the reason for a Canada Summer games was to get the country’s attention, at a potential cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers (we would see big benefit in recreational upgrades no doubt) then why couldn’t we look at getting some attention one day of the year?
Most of the work has already been done. What holiday will Brandon be what the North Pole is to Christmas?
Groundhog Day. What will the name of this little critter be? Brandon Bob.
We need a groundhog, we need him in a high-profile location, and we can’t be afraid to "pimp out the little fella" for some national attention.
The last two stories to get Brandon on a national stage were the drunken guy on the lawnmower at the fast food drive through and the mayor who threatened to "slap" a city counsellor. Not sure how promoting a groundhog could really be a step down from that.
A woodchuck sanctuary could be a tourist draw in the summer and in the winter it could be incorporated into the Winter Festival. The Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival could have a mascot similar to Willie the Wheat King, only a gopher, that could visit pavilions across the city, during the celebration.
We could have T-shirts and souvenirs and postcards and more. Ever been to a US city that has one small claim to fame?
They market and milk that puppy so hard, six months after visiting, you wonder how and why you found it necessary to buy a ball of twine from a drug store in South Dakota. (Why did I buy it anyways?)
In a city the size of Dauphin, 30,000 Superman fans invade Metropolis, Illinois for a big convention to simply celebrate Superman. Thirty. Thousand. Visitors. Every Summer.
Tell me Brandon Tourism wouldn’t love those numbers in addition to an already popular Winter and Summer Fair/Ag Days/Winter Festival/Folkfest.
In 1972, DC comics declared the Illinois city as Superman’s hometown. It didn’t matter that Metropolis looked more like New York than Dauphin, and the name is from the 1830s.
Aside from the annual Superman Celebration, a 15-foot-tall bronze statue sits in Superman Square. Visitors can also find Lois Lane, and a giant chunk of "Kryptonite".
This brings tourists. Tourists bring families. And everyone leaves money behind.
A groundhog statue. A groundhog convention. Make Bill Murray an honorary citizen of our city! Brandon Bob, where are you?
A Texas city, famous for cattle, celebrates teeth. Hereford, Texas has an abundance of natural fluorides in their water supply, keeping residents cavity-free, and dentists looking or new jobs.
Austin Minnesota is known as "Spamtown, USA." Like Brandon has Maple Leaf, Austin is home to the Hormel Corporation, and they make the canned meat. They even have a Spam Museum!
Hastings Nebraska is the "Birthplace of Kool-Aid." The city has done a great job marketing the flavoured drink’s popularity. Each year, over 25,000 people attend the annual Kool-Aid festival.
Brandon Bob can have his own parade, food contests, museum, gift store, carnival, and community barbecue, social, you name it! We really need to "GO-PHER" it! (sorry GO FOR IT!)
I call on the City of Brandon and Brandon Tourism to immediately make a serious inquiry into the genesis of Brandon Bob, where is he now (if anywhere) and investigate how we capitalize on something we are already national know for, but are doing nothing to exploit. And if he does exist, maybe we need to contact the BPS to file a missing rodent report.
JOKE THIS WEEK
Over breakfast one morning, a woman said to her husband, "I'll bet you don't know what day this is."
"Of course I do," he answered as if he was offended, and left for the office.
At 10:00 a.m., the doorbell rang and when the woman opened the door, she was handed a box of a dozen long stemmed red roses. At 1:00 p.m., a foil-wrapped, two-pound box of her favorite chocolates was delivered. Later, a boutique delivered a designer dress.
The woman couldn't wait for her husband to come home.
"First the flowers, then the chocolates and then the dress!" she exclaimed.
"I've never had a more wonderful Groundhog Day in my life!"
Alison Marie Bauer-Potter
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 9, 2013