There are many groundhogs around the country that are said to be able to predict whether winter will stay or spring will come, but those in Pennsylvania recognizes that the original weather-predicting groundhog is the one-and-only, Punxsutawney Phil. Phil gives notoriety for an otherwise small town an hour and a half north-east of Pittsburgh. On February 2nd , throngs of people, many local, many from other parts of the state, and even some from all over the country, will travel to the “Weather Capital of the World,” Gobbler’s Knob. Many others will be watching intently by internet and TV for his prediction.
The tradition of having a groundhog wake from hibernation to see his shadow actually comes from folklore belonging to some of the original settlers of Pennsylvania: The Germans. On this day, if the weather were sunny, it was said that winter would have another go before giving way to spring. Likewise, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, he returns to his burrow for another 6 weeks of winter. Of course, if he doesn’t see his shadow, then we are to expect an early spring.
The famous Phil can be found in just about any direction you look in Punxsy. By the fire station, he is at the ready, dressed as a firefighter. At the library, he dons the stovepipe hat that his “Inner Circle” and handlers wear during his events. Other statues include Phil draped in an American flag, holding proud the key to the town, playing the bagpipes, and working hard as a carpenter, among many others.
Throughout the years, Phil has enjoyed a infamy, and perhaps a few Old German beers as well. (Hey, does anyone really know what’s in his “elixir of life” they give him every summer?). The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club (www.groundhog.org) even includes a fun-fact for all you alcohol aficionados out there: “During Prohibition, Phil threatened to impose 60 weeks of winter on the community if he wasn’t allowed a drink.”
Atta boy, Phil.