Concord Charlie Predicts An Early Spring

For Immediate Release: 
Feb 02 2017

CONTACT:  Sarah Dalton

Concord University

Office of Advancement

PO Box 1000, Athens, WV 24712

(304) 384-6312,


After 4 p.m.





Award-winning Playwright and Actor Vain Colby

 Serves as Grand Groundhog Watcher at Annual Concord University Breakfast


ATHENS, W.Va. – It’s official! Concord Charlie did not see his shadow and has predicted an early spring.

Concord University Vice President and Academic Dean Dr. Peter Viscusi relayed the famed groundhog’s weather forecast to guests gathered for the 39th Annual Concord University Groundhog Day Breakfast held today (Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017) in University Point’s Pais Fellowship Hall on the Athens campus.

“It’s going to be a short winter and it’s going to be mild,” Viscusi said.

He said that while Concord Charlie disagreed with Punxsutawney Phil, who is calling for six more weeks of winter, Concord’s weather prophet speaks for the Mountain State’s forecast. “The weather here in West Virginia is not the national weather,” he said.

According to Groundhog Day tradition, if the groundhog sees his shadow the morning of Feb. 2, six more weeks of winter can be expected. An early spring will be on the way if he doesn’t see his shadow. 

Concord Charlie has been the official predictor of the coming of spring for 39 years on Groundhog Day at “The Campus Beautiful.” 

The Concord Charlie tradition was originated in 1978 by the late Professor R.T. “Tom” Hill. As chairman of both the geography department and the Appalachian Studies program at Concord, Hill started the Groundhog Day Breakfast as a means to celebrate a bit of Appalachian heritage and highlight the program.

Charlie shared the spotlight at the breakfast with the 2017 Grand Groundhog Watcher, award-winning playwright and actor Vain Colby of Bluefield, W.Va. The Grand Groundhog Watcher honor is bestowed on an individual who has positively impacted life and culture in West Virginia.

Colby is known for his original plays and his work with 4PALS Productions. A popular and successful theater personality, Colby is applauded by audiences across the region and beyond not only for his engaging stories but also for his commitment to providing theater opportunities for his neighbors. Originally from Northfork, W.Va., Colby studied communication arts and theatre at Concord.

“Concord is my home and it’s good to be home again,” he said.

Colby said he draws on his theatrical training from Concord in his work and values the guidance of professors who challenged him to expand his talents. “The lessons I learned here were priceless,” he said.

While Colby’s “The Passing of Pearl” received top honors at West Virginia’s state theater competition in 2010, he continues to receive acclaim with his new work, “The Eleventh Hour.” Along with writing “The Eleventh Hour,” Colby also has a leading role in the show.

“The Eleventh Hour” is about two churches, one black and one white, and is based on the idea that worship at eleven o’clock on Sunday morning may be the most segregated hour of the week.

The black church gets destroyed by Mother Nature and the white minister invites his black brothers and sisters to worship at his church.  While the antics abound, the parishioners learn valuable lessons such as people are more alike than they are different.

“Why wait to get to heaven to worship together,” Colby said. “It’s hard to divide us when we know each other.”

As part of the morning’s festivities, the choir from “The Eleventh Hour” performed “Lean on Me” and “How I Got Over,” two selections from the show.

Concord is hosting a performance of “The Eleventh Hour” on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Main Theatre of the Fine Arts Center. The community is invited to attend at no charge.  Additional information is available by visiting:



Grand Groundhog Watcher Vain Colby and

Concord University Vice President for Advancement Alicia Besenyei


Concord University Vice President and Academic Dean Dr. Peter Viscusi


“The Eleventh Hour” choir




Persons with disabilities should contact Nancy Ellison, 1-304-384-6086 or 1-800-344-6679 extension 6086

if special assistance is required for access to an event scheduled by the University on campus.