The most famous prognosticating groundhog in Wiarton is dead.

The death of Wiarton Willie, the groundhog whose purported prognosticating abilities brought thousands of people to Wiarton every Feb. 2, was announced Wednesday by the Town of South Bruce Peninsula.

Willie was 13 years old. Although most wild groundhogs typically live for about four years, Willie was kept under particularly close watch to help ensure a long life.

A memorial service has been scheduled for Sept. 30, starting at 11 a.m.

According to town officials, a funeral procession will travel through Bluewater Park. A memory book will also be available for people to sign at Wiarton Town Hall.

Wee Willie, a two-year-old groundhog said to have been acting as Wiarton Willie’s understudy in recent years, will be introduced as the new Wiarton Willie following the ceremony.

The groundhog’s legend and the Wiarton Willie Festival were created in 1956 by Wiarton-area resident Mac McKenzie, who died last month.

Initially conceived as a small gathering for friends, the festival quickly grew as Willie became synonymous with Groundhog Day.

With files from CTV Kitchener's Ryan Flanagan.