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Staten Island Chuck Plays Nice With De Blasio, Indicates There Will Be Early Spring

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Groundhog Day 2015 in New York City brought the good news of an early spring, and even more good news for Mayor Bill de Blasio because Staten Island Chuck survived.

Monday's festivities began with pomp, posters, songs and a whole lot of jokes about what happened last year when the mayor fumbled his very first groundhog day. Chuck -- actually it was female Charlotte playing the role that day -- jumped or leapt out of de Blasio's arms and apparently suffered internal injuries, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

"And now the moment you've been waiting for: the mayor and the groundhog," Deputy Staten Island Borough President Edward Burke said Monday. "Let's be honest -- half of you are here because you love this ritual and half of you are here because you're waiting for something to go wrong. There will be no surprises, 2015 is not a leap year."

De Blasio wasn't the first mayor to have problems with that furry little prognosticator. Chuck bit Mayor Mike Bloomberg in 2009. This year, the Staten Island Zoo went to great lengths to separate the combatants.

"Teams of animal behavior experts, and scientists have consulted from all over the country. The National Institute of Health has weighed in on my behalf. The 'National Institute of Groundhog Health' has weighed in as well. I think we got NASA involved," de Blasio said.

The mayor called the new hands-free glass enclosure built for Chuck to come out and see his shadow a "new, progressive, exciting approach to groundhog diplomacy."

"This new approach will be safer for both species involved," de Blasio added.

After moving around in his new enclosure, Chuck did not see his shadow, meaning he thinks spring is near. Officials said he's right 80 percent of the time.

"As you heard, Chuck has an extraordinary rating. This is ... this is something I did not know -- ranked the No. 2 groundhog by The Weather Channel's list of top 11 groundhogs to watch," de Blasio said.

At the end, Mayor de Blasio held up a poster saying spring is coming. He also heaved a huge sigh of relief that no charges of groundhog-i-cide would be forthcoming, Kramer reported.

Although Chuck and the mayor got along fine there is a war brewing with Punxsutawney Phil. Pennsylvania's groundhog did see his shadow on Monday, predictng six more weeks of winter.

Long Island's Malverne Mel also predicted six more weeks of winter.

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