Raleigh's going groundhog ga-ga

Next Sunday's Super Bowl pits Green Bay against Pittsburgh - and this Wednesday, their respective states will compete for Groundhog Day cred: Punxsutawney Phil, of Punxsutawney, Pa., vs. Jimmy the Groundhog, of Sun Prairie, Wis.

Closer to home, a featured attraction Wednesday is Raleigh's Sir Walter Wally, host of a free event at that downtown 's N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., events there will wrap around the shadow ceremony that begins at noon just sharp right outside the museum's front entrance. N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Dee Freeman will join museum educator John Connors, wearing a top hat. Before and after the ceremony, Wally will be available for photos.

Visitors can also see additional educational stations on the first floor of the museum. There will be information on animal hibernation, signs of spring, the history of Groundhog Day - plus kid-oriented activities like the hog toss and sand art. A special program for 6 and younger, "Animals in Winter," will be offered at 10:30 and 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the museum's third-floor Windows on the World theater.

The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences is at 11 W. Jones St, Raleigh. Details: 919-733-7450;

(Even closer to home, there's Charlotte's Queen Charlotte - the four-legged one, of course - at a 3 p.m. celebration at the Charlotte Nature Museum, 1658 Sterling Road. Details: www.charlottenature .)