In Our Schools

Groundhog Day tradition alive in Rockland

6 more weeks
By Beth A. Birmingham | Feb 03, 2014
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham W. Chuck Berry sees his shadow during the annual Groundhog Day celebration at The Berry Manor Inn in Rockland Feb. 3. Co-owner Cheryl Michaelsen served as mistress of ceremonies as students from South School enjoyed the show.

Rockland — Although Groundhog Phil saw his shadow in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pa. Feb. 2, Rockland's own W. Chuck Berry forgot to set his alarm and celebrated a day later with students from South School.

Honoring its six-year tradition, co-owners of The Berry Manor Inn on Talbot Avenue invited the elementary students to wake up W. Chuck Berry and his shadow — signifying six more weeks of winter.

Kindergarteners and first-grade students were treated to hot chocolate and entertainment with Cheryl Michaelsen as mistress of ceremonies.

"Groundhog's Day is one of the least celebrated holidays," said Michaelsen before the show. She and husband Mike LaPosta and volunteers from the manor spread cheer throughout downtown Rockland  — including some local nursing homes — on the actual Groundhog Day.

As the story goes, W. Chuck Berry ventured all the way from Pennsylvania and ended up at The Berry Manor Inn where he thought relatives lived. It was explained he got to be as large as a normal human because he developed a liking for the local favorite — Wasses' hot dogs.

After singing and dancing, the students posed with W. Chuck Berry and were given chocolate groundhogs upon their departure.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at

Getting South School students ready to wake up W. Chuck Berry, the local groundhog who slept through Groundhog Day, is The Berry Manor Inn co-owner Cheryl Michaelsen. This is the sixth year the bed and breakfast has invited Rockland students to celebrate the holiday. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Volunteers at The Berry Manor Inn in Rockland serve South School students hot chocolate while they get ready to celebrate Groundhog Day a day late, Feb. 3. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Mistress of Ceremonies Cheryl Michaelsen and W. Chuck Berry pose with Benjamin Tripp's South School class Feb. 3. Kindergarten and first-grade students enjoyed the annual Groundhog Day celebration at The Berry Manor Inn in Rockland. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
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