SUNSET -- The city is only 2 miles long and a half-mile wide, but Sunset was the center of attention in the Top of Utah on Thursday.
All eyes were on Sunset Sam, the famously small guinea pig and annual prognosticator of a long or short winter.
As the sun slipped slowly toward the horizon, the residents expectantly waited for Sunset Sam to emerge from his warm blanket to see if she could see the sunset.
To the disappointment of many, the little critter poked her head out in time to see the blaze-orange sunset below the crisp blue sky. Sam, like the East Coast's Punxsutawney Phil, was predicting six more weeks of winter. If she hadn't seen the sunset, it would have meant an early spring.
Residents cheered in thanks for Sunset Sam's help, but there were many groans as well.
"We're done with winter," said 55-year-old Sunset resident Ray Chapman. "Especially since, if it's going to be cold, let's have more snow to go with it."
What began 18 years ago as a way to bring a family together after the accidental death of one of its members, was eventually turned over to the city to continue the tradition.
The event is now celebrated by Sunset residents as a winter festival, with a chili cook-off, 2K race, art show, games and fireworks from the City Hall parking lot.
Because the city is known for its impressive sunset view, it seemed fitting to have the guinea pig look to the sunset for her prediction, Mayor Chad Bangerter said.
"Besides, mornings are too hard to get up and see anything, so it seemed like a great idea to use our sunsets," he said. "It's fun for what it is and a nice thing for our city and community."
Residents Mark and Tara Garner have come to the event for the past 12 years. They say the guinea pig has predicted a longer winter more often than not.
"Unfortunately, (it has) been right most of the time," said Mark Garner, 49.
How does the famous guinea pig do it year after year? Six-year-old Seth Neville, Sam's owner, says it's because he takes good care of his pet.
"My guinea pig always stays with me, and I feed her lots of times," Seth said.
Accurate or not, Susan and John Henrie, of Sunset, were not pleased with the prediction of a longer winter.
"We've had it," said John, 49.
He and his wife have been coming to see Sunset Sam for the last three years and despite the dismal news, they like the fact that Utah has its own famous animal predictor. As Henrie said: "The East Coast has Phil, so why not have our own?"