Sarah Etheridge began celebrating her 18th birthday the same way she's celebrated the day for 13 years in a row: by coming to see Lilburn's famous groundhog, General Beauregard Lee, make his annual weather prediction.
For many among the hundreds of people gathered there Thursday morning, the trek to Yellow River Game Ranch on Groundhog Day is an annual must-do.
"It's a family tradition," said Linda Brown of Loganville. It was the 11th year to see Beau for her son Jason, and the sixth for son Spencer.
And sometimes it's a reunion of "Groundhog Day" acquaintances. Etheridge's mother, Shirley Holmes from Lawrenceville, met Sonny Guntermann, from Lithia Springs, on Groundhog Day years ago.
"It's the only time we see each other," Holmes said.
The general didn't disappoint. Coaxed out as the Chick-fil-A cow rang a bell and onlookers shouted "Come out, Beau!," the furry guy emerged from his southern-style white mansion, darting among bushes. The crowd cheered and clapped when game ranch CEO Art Rillieg declared "no shadow."
"7:35 and 40 degrees. No shadow means an early spring," Rillieg said.
Wendy Seigler from Dacula said she and her son Matthew are there every year, and they were pleased to be able to see more of Beau than usual as the groundhog raced from one bush to another, then finally settled down in front of his house.
Eileen Ogletree came from Griffin, Ga., to celebrate her 50th birthday -- and brought her mom, dad and siblings from Savannah.
And if parents thought they might be able to sleep in this year, the kids were having none of it. Al Coke from Snellville said his daughter, Crystal, woke up at 10:30 Wednesday night to remind him that they needed to get up early to see Beau.
Cindy Henry of Stone Mountain was there for the first time with daughters Annabelle and Evie. They also reminded her the night before, and "jumped out of bed" this morning. Will they be back? "Oh, yeah," Cindy said.