Prediction • For 19 years, a guinea pig named Sam has been forecasting the coming of spring.
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Sunset • It was Groundhog day, and Sunset Sam, who isn't a groundhog, made his prediction winter is on its way out.
Saturday afternoon, Sam, a guinea pig, peered at the sun sinking into the haze over this Davis County town and, like his rodent cousin, Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania, failed to see his shadow.
"He's not seeing the sunset," Mayor Chad Bangerter said to a crowd of about 100 people who came to city hall to hear what Sam might decide. "It's covered by those clouds over there. We are going to have an early spring."
For two decades, Sam and his ancestors have been foretelling winter's fate for the residents of Sunset and nearby towns. The current Sam, who lives the rest of the year in 7-year-old Seth Neville's house, has been on the job for about five years. He's never been wrong, said Ray Chapman, Seth's grandfather.
"We're batting a thousand," Chapman said.
Seth hoped Sam would forecast six more weeks of snow and cold temperatures. Why? "So I can have some more time inside" to play video games and stay warm, he said.
Seth seemed to express a minority view. Plenty of others stomping their feet and spooning down chili to stay warm in the 29-degree cold were hoping winter would end as soon as possible.
"I'm done with the cold. I sort of want spring. I want to play outside," said Hanna Griffith, 10.
Sunset residents Brent and Susan Andrews created the Sunset Sam event 19 years ago as a way to commemorate the life of their 3-year-old son, Jeremy, who died when a pickup truck ran into him while he was riding his bicycle.
Jeremy was the youngest of six children, said Brent Andrews, who sits on the city council.
"We started it so they basically could get their minds off of Jeremy a little," Andrews said.
Until last year, the Andrews family organized and ran the event, which is held every Feb. 2 in the parking lot outside the city office building. Last year the family turned it over to the city.
"It got to be too much for me to handle," Andrews said.