Remember the Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day and the excitement the locals in Punxsutawney, Pa., experienced debating whether the groundhog would see his shadow? A similar scene unfolds every year in Sun Prairie, which claims for itself the title of Groundhog Capital of the World. Local woodchuck enthusiasts have turned Groundhog Day into a weekend celebration. In the film, the groundhog of the hour was named Phil; in Sun Prairie, all eyes will be on Jimmy, who will make his free prognostication at 7:10 a.m. on Feb. 2 at Cannery Square Plaza, 301 E. Main St. If Jimmy sees his shadow, the legend goes, six more weeks of winter are probably on the way. If he doesn't see his shadow, spring is almost a sure bet to arrive early. How sure? Officials at the Sun Prairie Chamber of Commerce say Jimmy boasts an 80% accuracy rating over the past several years.
Jimmy, who will arrive at Cannery Square in style via a limousine with a fire engine escort, will also make an appearance at a community breakfast featuring pancakes, sausage, bacon, applesauce, milk, juice and coffee on Feb. 3 at St. Albert the Great Church, 2420 St. Albert the Great Drive. Breakfast will be served from 7:30 to 11 a.m., $6/adults, $3/ages 10 and under. Games, booths, live entertainment and the opportunity to meet Jimmy are free. People born on Feb. 2 ' 'human groundhogs,' as the Chamber calls them ' will be treated to birthday cake beginning at 8:30 a.m. Call 837-4547 for more details.
Game of kings
Learning to play chess at a young age helps kids think better, says Neil Gleason, who oversees the Madison School & Community Recreation's citywide chess tournament for youths in kindergarten through grade 12. Slated for Saturday, March 3, at the UW-Madison Union South, the all-day tournament is designed to help kids understand the interplay between formal knowledge and its practical application. 'Unlike traditional academics, chess gives immediate feedback for knowledge and technique,' says Gleason, who also is the assistant coach of West High School's nationally acclaimed Chess Club. 'Fifth-graders who wonder why they are forced to learn U.S. colonial history quickly learn that their theoretical mastery of king-and-pawn endings is a matter of life and death at the chess board. Chess offers a clear reward for knowledge and a stark penalty for ignorance.'
A half-dozen Madison middle schools provide after-school chess programs ' 'recreation for the brain,' says Ian Hannah, MSCR's middle school program specialist ' and the youth chess tournament is designed as a way to boost both awareness and enjoyment of the game. Hannah says the tournament has attracted up to 120 players in years past, and first-, second- and third-place winners will be crowned in two categories (kindergarten-grade 5 and grades 6-12), as well as one overall winner in each grade. Opening-round opponents are based on ages. On-site registration begins at 8:15 a.m., with an awards ceremony at 4 p.m. For more information, call Gleason at 238-4312 or Hannah at 204-3052.