LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — When Stacey Underhill wants to work, she’s in her garage, turning out pottery– vases and bowls that are pieces of art. When she wants to play, she puts on a suit.

She said Groundhog Day is her favorite holiday.

For the past 15 years, Stacey has had her friends over for a Groundhog Day party, complete with groundhog stew (spaghetti), special desserts, and Woodchuck cider. Her favorite movie, “Groundhog Day,” plays in the background.

She can’t really explain her obsession with groundhogs. Her friends know she just likes to be different.

“They think I’m nuts,” she said.

“I’ll invite people and they’re like, ‘I’ve never been to a Groundhog’s Day party.’ ”

To her, that’s strange.

But the fun starts long before the party, when Ms. Underhill goes undercover. She emerges from her burrow and goes into the world to spread some groundhog cheer, waving at cars and school buses and getting lots of honks in return. Stacey never breaks character.

It takes a lot of big mannerisms, she said.

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“I don’t speak when I’m in it because I don’t want anyone to recognize my voice. I never take the head off in front of children.”

She knows many kids think she’s crazy. But if they stop for a picture, Stacey’s friend Rachel Eldridge rewards them with a sticker.

“I think it’s really fun,” Eldridge said. “I think it’s good to make this day as positive as possible.

This is not just a February fascination. Stacey’s alter ego appears at birthday parties and other events.
“I feel it wouldn’t be right to leave the groundhog locked in a closet for 24 days of the year, so I let him out,” she said.

So now you know. Pennsylvania has Punxatawney Phil, but Lexington also has a whacky woodchuck. When it comes to spreading cheer, she casts a pretty long shadow.