This is a tragedy.

This is just like when Jonathan Larson died of an aortic aneurysm the morning of his show “Rent”’s Off-Broadway preview.

Only in groundhog form.

Here we are, days before the big day in Milltown, New Jersey, and Milltown Mel — New Jersey’s answer to Punxsutawney Phil — drops dead. His official Facebook page, and, yes, he had one, broke the bad news.

It was Sunday night when this news came out, only two and a half days before Mel was to do his prognosticating. NOW what are they going to do?! At least they have Dan Zarrow.

For several years now a local crowd would gather on Groundhog Day morning in the parking lot of the American Legion on JFK Drive. This year the celebration just won’t happen. There’s no time to find a new groundhog. Most of them are hibernating and babies won’t be born until spring. So that’s that.

It’s been pointed out that the average lifespan of a groundhog is three years. reported the deceased Mel predicted whether there would be an early spring each Groundhog Day since 2016. So this most recent Mel put up some serious Betty White longevity numbers. I guess we can’t be too sad.

No word yet if Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” will play at Mel’s funeral.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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