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Needed: Groundhog for D.C. celebration

Wednesday - 2/1/2012, 6:23am  ET

Potomac Phil (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
If a groundhog can't be found, this one will be used. (Courtesy of Aaron DeNu)
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Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Punxatawney, Pa. gets all the attention this time of year, but a nonprofit group is putting together D.C.'s first ever Groundhog Day celebration to be held Thursday in Dupont Circle Park.

There is one small glitch. The group needs your help finding an actual "National Groundhog."

"We've heard stories of groundhogs as pets. Unfortunately, we haven't found a groundhog with a heartbeat," said Aaron DeNu, one of the founders of the group Dupont Festival.

He's already spoken with the National Zoo.

"They have prairie dogs, but that's not necessarily something that we're looking for. We're looking for the groundhog," says DeNu.

If you can help, you contact the Dupont Festival.

Even if no living, breathing groundhog is found, the celebration will go on.

Miss Pixie's Furnishings & Whatnot on 14th Street Northwest has donated a real stuffed groundhog, and DeNu has bought a lifelike groundhog puppet off the Internet.

The fun begins at 8 a.m. Thursday with music, students from Ross Elementary and free groundhog-shaped cookies and hot chocolate provided by the Dupont Circle Hotel.

Members of the organizing committee will wear tophats as is the tradition in Punxatawney, and spectators are encouraged to dress up as their favorite character from the Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day".

Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans is expected to be on hand, and DeNu says he's working on getting an official proclamation from the city that would declare February 2 "D.C. Groundhog Day".

At 8:30 a.m. DeNu says the groundhog - dubbed "Potomac Phil" - will deliver his weather prediction, and more.

"He'll also be predicting the political climate for the next nine months," DeNu said.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)