Groundhog Day marks 10 years since Bill de Blasio dropped Staten Island ‘Chuck’


This Groundhog Day disaster has cast a decade-long shadow.

Friday marks exactly ten years since then-Mayor Bill “Butterfingers” de Blasio infamously lost his grip and dropped Staten Island Chuck — killing the critter.

De Blasio was visiting Staten Island Zoo to celebrate Groundhog Day on Feb. 2, 2014, when zoo staffers handed him the rodent.

But the anxious animal squirmed out of the 6’5″ mayor’s grip and plummeted to the ground.

Several months later, in September, The Post broke the news that Staten Island Chuck had died – and the zoo tried to cover it up.

Chuck was found dead in his enclosure just days later on Feb. 9, with “acute internal injuries” consistent with a fall, sources revealed.

In a desperate move — that is sure to be remembered alongside Watergate as one of history’s greatest cover-ups — zoo officials only told a few close supporters that the animal had died, but of natural causes.

Then-Mayor de Blasio dropped the groundhog on Feb. 2, 2014.

The scandal then deepened when The Post revealed that Staten Island Chuck was actually a female stand-in, named Charlotte.

The real Chuck had secretly been swapped out after he famously nibbled on then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s leather-gloved hand at the 2009 Groundhog Day event, sources said.

The Staten Island Zoo kept the decoy operation under wraps to preserve the sacredness of the “groundhog brand,” the sources said.

The groundhog later died. Chad Rachman/N.Y.Post

Even Hizzoner himself swore he didn’t know.

“I found out as all of you found out – I had no idea previously,” de Blasio insisted at the time.

The story of Charlotte’s untimely death, however, resulted in a repeat cycle worthy of Bill Murray – with the mayor enduring months of endless ribbing about the incident.

Staten Island Chuck bit Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009. Steven Hirsch

“Having the mayor here means one thing, the city’s groundhogs are safe, but if Bloomberg were still in office the groundhog would not have fallen so far,” Al Smith IV, the great-grandson of New York Gov. Alfred E. Smith, cracked at the eponymous Catholic charity ball that October.

During the keynote speech, since-disgraced veteran broadcaster Charlie Rose also joked that Bill O’Reilly could not make the event because he was “out pushing his new book ‘Killing Patton’ and the next one he’s calling ‘Killing Groundhog’ and we know where he’s going for his research.”

De Blasio later said he “100 percent regrets” the incident.

In January 2015, the Staten Island Zoo announced that it had revised its Groundhog Day policy so that no one – mayor or otherwise – could handle the animals.

The following month, de Blasio observed Groundhog Day from behind plexiglass.

Hizzoner then skipped Groundhog Day at the zoo in 2016 because he was campaigning in Iowa for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, the Staten Island Advocate reported.

No mayor has returned to mark the occasion.

The mayor endured months of jokes about the groundhog drop.

De Blasio eventually broke his silence on that fateful day last June in an interview with New York magazine.

“I go there and it’s 7 in the morning, which means my motor skills are not at their best. I put on these gloves, and they’re like, ‘Here’s a groundhog,’ I’m like, ‘What the f–k?’” the former mayor said, adding that he “100 percent regrets” holding the animal.

“I’m like, ‘Don’t you have a little more coaching to go with this or whatever?’ It was idiocy. Why would you want an elected official to hold a groundhog?” he scoffed.

The Staten Island Zoo’s Groundhog Day event will be open to the public Friday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to SILive.

The zoo and de Blasio did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for a comment on the anniversary.

With Post wires


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