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Quentin the Quahog forecasts more winter ahead

Nantucketers rely on clam to predict

Quahogs are used instead of groundhogs on Groundhog Day in Nantucket, where Feb. 2 is known as Quahog Day. Quahogs are used instead of groundhogs on Groundhog Day in Nantucket, where Feb. 2 is known as Quahog Day. (Steve Haines for The Boston Globe/ File 2009)
By Shana Wickett
Globe Correspondent / February 3, 2010

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With a squirt to the left, Nantucket Harbor native Quentin the Quahog predicted six more weeks of winter, the Nantucket harbormaster said.

Dave Fronzuto, the harbormaster, opened the clam at noon at Nantucket Town Pier yesterday.

“Unfortunately, he agreed with the groundhog, but you can’t possibly trust a groundhog,’’ Fronzuto said.

Fronzuto was referring to Punxsutawney Phil, the Pennsylvania groundhog that the nation watches on Feb. 2 each year to learn if he came out of his temporary home and saw his shadow, which he did yesterday, meaning six more weeks of winter are expected.

On Feb. 2 - known to Nantucketers as Quahog Day, not Groundhog Day - the mollusk predicts how much longer the winter season will last with a squirt of water from its siphon. A spit to the left means six more weeks of winter are on the way, and a spit to the right means winter is over, Fronzuto said.

“It’s not very scientific, but it’s worked for us,’’ Fronzuto said.

Fronzuto proclaimed Quentin much more reliable than Punxsutawney Phil, saying 2002’s Quentin predicted the Super Bowl win that year by the New England Patriots.

“The groundhog is obviously not responsible, and his predictions are questionable,’’ Fronzuto said. “You certainly can’t doubt a quahog.’’

The tradition began exactly 30 years ago, launched by former harbormaster Allen Holdgate Sr. and longtime Nantucket resident H. Flint Ranney, now a board member of the Steamship Authority representing Nantucket, Fronzuto said.

About 10 people, including Ranney, came to see Quentin’s prediction yesterday.

Fronzuto said a Facebook page will be created and a viewing box installed on the pier under the “Quentin the Quahog’’ sign to honor Quentin with a larger audience.

But for now, the clam will meet his noble and delicious demise.

“After I open him, I eat him,’’ said Fronzuto. “He gives his life for his prediction.’’