Thousands of people from around the world come to hear what he has to say, and he has met President Ronald Reagan. Bill Murray starred in a movie made about him. He has been broadcast live on the JumboTron at Times Square in New York City and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. He is the one, the only, Punxsutawney Phil. And, today is his day.
In case you haven’t noticed, today is February 2 or, in other words, Groundhog Day. Today the world’s most famous groundhog revealed his prediction that, alas, we’re in for six more weeks of winter. Phil emerged from his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to give his 126th proclamation. And, I happen to know him personally.
I was born and raised in Punxsutawney, the “Weather Capital of the World,” and have made the trek to Gobbler’s Knob more times than I can remember – even performing as a backup dancer on stage one year. Thousands of people flock to the small town, 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, brave the bitter cold and stand in the middle of the woods way before sunrise to hear great music, meet the members of the Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle (top hats and all), see fireworks and, of course, hear Phil’s prediction.
The legend states that if Phil sees his shadow, there are six more weeks of winter. If no shadow is seen, spring is just around the corner. Upon emerging from his burrow, Phil converses with the Groundhog Club’s president in “Groundhogese” (a language only understood by the current president) who in return translates his forecast to the world.
It’s fun; it’s humorous; and, I am proud to be part of such a great tradition. Our sports teams are the Punxsy Chucks (woodchuck being another term for groundhog), we have “Phantastic Phil’s” throughout town, and schools and businesses close to celebrate Groundhog Day. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Not to mention it put Punxsutawney on the map. When I tell people where I am from and see a look of confusion, I simply say “you know, Groundhog Day” and all is clear.
For more information including Groundhog Day history and fun facts, check out http://www.groundhog.org/. Or, for those of you interested, I would highly encourage a trek of your own!
If you have any questions, add them to the comment section. I would be glad to fascinate you some more! And if you traveled to Punxsutawney for the celebration this year, I’d love to hear what you thought of the festivities!