Get to know the furriest forest preserve representative.
Willy the Woodchuck has been around for decades, living off the land and you may have seen him at one of the District's visitor centers during public events. But it's come to our attention that many people don't know that much about him.
What we do know for certain is that he's a woodchuck of few words. In fact, he doesn't speak. Ever.
But he can read and write very well, so we wrote down a bunch of questions and he was nice enough to answer them.
Learn more about this fun-loving mascot with the full question and answer session:
How old are you?
I’m 35, but people say I don’t look a day over 29.
Where do you live?
In the forest, silly. Over the years I’ve built many burrows, which are nice little tunnels to live in.
What’s your favorite food?
I’m not a picky vegetarian. In the spring, dandelions are a tasty treat. In summer, lettuce is one of my favorites. I would like to apologize to all the people’s vegetable gardens I’ve raided over the years. But it takes a lot of food to feed a 5-foot-11, 175 pound woodchuck.
What do you do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?
If I’m not eating, sleeping or appearing at an event, I’m working on my Fortnite dances. I now can floss better than my dentist, so I’ve started working on the Orange Justice.
Is it fun being a mascot?
Absolutely! But some people say it’s given me a big head.
What do you have to do as a mascot?
I thought it would be an easy job. You just stand there and look pretty. Just be happy, and keep a smile on your face. But, I’ve smiled so much, my face is now frozen that way. It can be weird sometimes.
How did you get the job?
I nailed the interview. Duh.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Will County’s forest preserves?
It’s a never-ending buffet. And it’s a free buffet open 24 hours a day.
In some parts of the country you’re also known as a Groundhog and, in other areas, a Whistle Pig. Why do you go by Willy Woodchuck and not Willy Whistle Pig?
It’s impossible for me to whistle. That darn frozen smile …
Willy wore glasses when he was younger but doesn’t anymore. What happened?
I lost them. Finding glasses in a forest is like finding a needle in a haystack.
We can’t help but notice you don’t wear pants, which seems weird.
Have you ever seen a woodchuck wearing pants?
No, but we’ve never seen one wear a vest.
Now that you mention it, that is ridiculous but I’ve grown attached to it and it’s part of my uniform.
Are you jealous of Punxsutawney Phil and his Groundhog Day fame?
Phil’s a terrible weather forecaster, so no. I wouldn’t want to be known for being wrong as often as I’m right. And I’m fine not having a guy in a top hat pull me out of the ground and hold me up in front of a crowd. Not that he could, because I’m a 175-pound woodchuck. But try this: On February 2, flip a coin. If it’s heads, there will be six more weeks of winter. If it’s tails, spring will arrive early. Your coin flip has as much of a chance of being correct as Phil.
Have you ever met any famous celebrities like Bill Murray?
I always hear people on the trails stopping and pointing at “Bambi,” but I’ve never seen him. It’s usually just a random deer they’re pointing at.
Woodchucks hibernate during the winter months, but you’re going to be at Snow Day Fest in January. Is it hard to wake up two months early?
Is it hard for you to wake up every day during the week when your alarm goes off? Multiply that by a bazillion. That’s what it’s like to wake up two months early. But don’t worry. I’ll still be at Snow Day Fest bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and with a smile on my face. I hope to see you there too!