To say that Dr. Bob Ronconi is a fan of Groundhog Day is a bit of an understatement.
His dental practice on North Ninth Street is decorated with Groundhog Day banners, street signs, posters, stuffed animals - groundhogs, of course - and he even owns a groundhog-shaped cookie cutter.
On Thursday, he got a visit from the real deal - Chubbers, the Oleson Park Zoo's groundhog.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Dr. Bob Ronconi holds up Chubbers, the Oleson Park Zoo’s groundhog, next to a Groundhog Day banner in his office. Ronconi’s staff arranged for the visit Thursday.
His staff arranged it.
"I had no idea," he said of the surprise visitor.
At the office, Chubbers sampled a sugar cookie made in his own image and posed for photos. He was also compared to a a rodent on a banner.
How long has Ronconi been a groundhog fan?
"Back when the movie came out," he said, referring to "Groundhog Day."
He has yet to visit Woodstock, Ill., where the movie was filmed, or Punxsutawney, Pa., home of the famous Punxsutawney Phil, but Ronconi does have a few items from the latter city.
But back to Chubbers, who actually saw his shadow Thursday. Of course, since it was a few days before the official Groundhog Day, which is Saturday, it probably doesn't count.
What's Ronconi hoping for?
"An early spring," he said.
To get the official prediction, Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich will conduct a Groundhog Day ceremony Saturday morning on the steps of the Fort Dodge Municipal Building starting at 7 a.m.
Of course, Chubbers will be there.