GRETCHEN GROUNDHOG, IT'S YOUR DAY!

By Abby Levine

Parts (17): Narrator 1    Narrator 2      Narrator 3     Narrator 4       Narrator 5    Narrator 6   
            Gretchen      Hester          Townsfolk(2)   Town Historian   Police Chief
            Editor        Father Mayor    Visitor        Little Boy       Great-Uncle Gus
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Narrator 1:  GRETCHEN GROUNDHOG, IT'S YOUR DAY!
	
Narrator 2:  It was a dark and snowy night. Gretchen Groundhog sat in her burrow, worrying.  In a 
             few days it would be February 2, when the world would be watching the little town of
             Piccadilly.

Narrator 3:  On that day, for the first time, Gretchen would step from her burrow to stand before
             TV cameras, newspaper reporters, tourists, all the townsfolk, and a brass band. 
             Everyone would be  waiting as Gretchen looked for her shadow.

Narrator 4:  For as long as she could remember, it had been Great-Uncle Gus who searched for his
             shadow before the anxious crowd.

Narrator 5:  If he saw it, there would be a roar of disappointment, for this meant winter would 
             last six more dreary weeks. The band would play slow, sad music, and Gus would
             trudge back into his burrow.

Narrator 6:  If there was no shadow, the band would play a lively tune, and everyone would cheer.
             Spring was around the corner!

Narrator 1:  But now Great-Uncle Gus was too old. It was up to Gretchen, his only relative, to 
             carry on.  Gretchen told her great-uncle,

Gretchen:   "I can't do it, I'm just too shy.  I can't stand there with everyone looking at me."

Great-Uncle Gus: "You can do it.  The first time is always the hardest,"

Narrator 2:  said Great-Uncle Gus.  But Gretchen knew she could not Go Out.

Narrator 3: "Gretchen's not Going Out!" The news flashed through Piccadilly.

Townsfolk:  "What will we do?"

Narrator 3:  the townsfolk asked each other.

Narrator 4:  On January 30, there was a story about Gretchen on the front page of the Post.
            "PICCADILLY PUZZLED" the headline said.

Narrator 5:  The story continued, "There has always been a Groundhog Day in Piccadilly. But this
             year, it seems Gretchen Groundhog will not Go Out. How will we plan if we do not
             know when winter will end?"

Narrator 6:  The townsfolk stopped Gretchen on the street.  They peppered her with questions.

Mayor:      "Should we buy more salt to put on icy roads?"

Narrator 1:  asked the mayor. A father asked,

Father:     "Shall I chop more wood for my family?"

Little Boy: "When can the bears stop hibernating?"

Narrator 2:  asked a little boy.  Everyone begged.

Townsfolk:  "Please, dear Gretchen, Go Out on Groundhog Day. Tell us when winter will end!"

Narrator 3:  But Gretchen only shook her head.

Narrator 4:  On January 31, Gretchen lit a cheery fire, but it did not help her mood.  All day 
             the doorbell chimed, the phone rang, e-mail erupted, and urgent letters plopped 
             through the mail slot.

Narrator 5:  Gretchen felt terrible.  It seemed like the longest day of her life.

Narrator 6:  On February 1, the town was in an uproar.  Tourists filled the motels.  In front 
             of Gretchen's burrow, carpenters were building wooden stands for the crowd.

Narrator 1:  The TV crews had arrived, and the band was practicing with squawky sounds.  
             Groundhog Day was only hours away!

Narrator 2: "PICCADILLY PANICKED"  read the Post.  "Soon the eyes of the world will be upon us. 
             What will happen if Gretchen does not Go Out?"

Narrator 3:  KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! Three townsfolk were waiting when Gretchen opened her door.

Town Historian: "You must try, Gretchen, there has always been a Groundhog Day in Piccadilly."

Narrator 4:  said the town historian.

Chief of Police: "Do, Gretchen. I'll stand beside you,"

Narrator 4:  said the chief of police.

Editor:     "I'll make you famous,"

Narrator 4:  said the editor of the Post. But Gretchen only shook her head.

Narrator 5:  All afternoon and evening, visitors came.  KNOCK!  KNOCK!  KNOCK!

Townsfolk:  "Gretchen, are you there?² KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! ³Gretchen!"

Narrator 6:  That night, weary and sad, Gretchen fell asleep in her rocking chair. But she heard
             the townsfolk even in her dreams.

Townsfolk:   KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! "Please, Gretchen, open the door!"

Narrator 2:  Gretchen awoke, but the knocking did not stop. She hurried to the door and looked
             out the peephole. There, on the moonlit snow, stood a little girl. It was Hester, 
             the town historian's daughter.

Hester:     "May I come in?"

Narrator 3:  Hester asked.  Gretchen opened the door. She helped Hester take off her coat, soggy
             mittens, and wet boots and muffler. Hester said,

Hester:     "I won't stay long.  I wanted you to see these.  I found them while I was helping my
             mother."

Narrator 4:  She held out a wooden box with some yellowed pieces of paper in it. Gretchen could 
             see that they had old-fashioned writing on them.  Gretchen asked,

Gretchen:   "What's this?"

Hester:     "Records from our town history,"

Narrator 5:  Hester explained.  While Great-Uncle Gus made cups of steaming cocoa, Gretchen
             studied the first piece of paper.

Narrator 6: "Tomorrow I Must Go Out," it read, "to Stand Before the Pilgrims and the Indians. 
             I Am Greatly Afeared." It was signed ³Goody Groundhog." Gretchen was amazed.

Gretchen:   "Goody Groundhog lived a long time ago!  She came to America on the Mayflower,
             before there was a Piccadilly."

Hester:     "My mother says Goody told everyone the Second Winter would be better than the first.
             They were very glad,"

Narrator 1:  said Hester. Gretchen leafed through the papers.  She exclaimed,

Gretchen:   "Here's one by George Groundhog at Valley Forge! He says, 'I Am Affrighted to Go Out,
             but I Shall.  The Winter Has Been Long and Hard.  The Soldiers Must Know What Will
             Be.'"

Hester:     "My mother says George told them the winter would go on a long time.  Everyone was
             very sad,"

Narrator 2:  said Hester. As Gretchen read through the papers, she became more and more excited.

Narrator 3:  There was a page from brave General Grant Groundhog, who had fought in the Civil 
             War. And Gene Groundhog, the tough cowboy.  And Gloria Groundhog, who became a 
             movie star.

Gretchen:   "They were all afraid to Go Out!"

Narrator 4:  Gretchen said. She read the last piece of paper.  "I am scared, but tomorrow I will
             try to Go Out," it said. It was signed "Gus Groundhog."

Gretchen:   "You?"

Narrator 5:  said Gretchen to Great-Uncle Gus.  Her great-uncle looked surprised. Then a dreamy 
             look came into his eyes.

Great-Uncle Gus: "It was so long ago I had forgotten it.  Now I remember-I couldn't eat or sleep
             the night before."

Narrator 6:  he said. Gretchen asked

Gretchen:   "What happened then?"

Great-Uncle Gus: "My great-uncle Grover helped me.  He said, 'You can do it, Gus.  The first time
             is always the hardest.'"

Narrator 1:  The clock began to chime.  "...nine, ten, eleven, twelve," they counted together.

Hester:     "Oh, my gosh, I've got to go!  I've never stayed up so late."

Narrator 2:  said Hester.

Gretchen:   "Thank you for everything, Hester,"

Narrator 3:  Gretchen said. She and Hester gave each other a big hug.  Gretchen went to bed and
             lay quietly in the darkness.

Narrator 4:  She thought about the next morning, about all the townsfolk gathered, the TV cameras
             and the crowds, the blaring of the band.

Narrator 5:  She turned on the light, wrote a few lines on a piece of paper, and put it in the
             history box.  Then she closed her eyes and fell asleep.

Narrator 6:  Gretchen's dreams were peaceful. She was awoken by the sound of voices and the 
             screeks of the band tuning up.

Narrator 1:  She put on her coat and muffler, boots and mittens.  She took a deep breath.

Gretchen:   "You can do it,"

Narrator 2:  she whispered to herself.  Then Gretchen Groundhog flung open the door...

Narrator 3:  and stepped out into the February morning.
Scripted by Jill Jauquet