Update: February 2, 2014, 8AM
It was a cold, soggy morning in Punxsutawney, PA, for Groundhog Day. The world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, emerged from his hole on Gobbler’s Knob and, to the chagrin of the crowd of over 20,000, saw his shadow, meaning 6 more weeks of winter.
Despite the rain and unfortunate prediction, the atmosphere in Punxsutawney is simply electric. If you ever have the chance, a visit to see Punxsutawney Phil is sure to excite.
Tired of winter? There may be some relief in store this weekend in the form of a furry, little groundhog.
That’s right, it’s once again time for Groundhog Day! The one day a year when everyone focuses their attention on the tiny Pennsylvania borough of Punxsutawney to see whether the world’s most famous rodent sees his shadow. Tradition has it, that if Punxsutawney Phil, as he’s affectionately known, sees his shadow, we are in store for 6 more weeks of winter. However, if Phil doesn’t see his shadow, we can all look forward to an early spring.
Without a doubt, Groundhog Day is truly one of America’s more odd traditions, but it’s a big deal all throughout the country.
Started in 1887, this is the 128th time that the prognosticator of prognosticators will emerge from hibernation to give his weather prediction to a group of tuxedoed men known as The Puxsutawney Groundhog Club.
You might ask, “What makes Punxsutawney Phil special? Why can he predict the weather when other groundhogs can’t?”
For that, I have a simple answer. According to legend, there has been only one Punxsutawney Phil. That’s right; the Phil you see today is evidently more than 130 years old. Given that most groundhogs only live for around 10 years, that is quite something. In order to keep this amazing rodent alive, Punxsutawney Phil is given a special elixir at a festival each summer that grants him 7 more years of life. It seems that Phil will be with us for many more years to come.
Thanks to this local lore and the popularity of the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” staring Bill Murray, an upwards of 30,000 people brave the cold and come out to see Phil’s weather prediction every Feb. 2.
With so many people making the trip to Punxsutawney each year, it should come as no surprise that the event has given birth to an entire festival that celebrates the world’s most famous groundhog. Throughout the 3-day Groundhog Day Festival you can learn more about the town of Punxsutawney at the Punxsy Museum, see historic Phil memorabilia at the Groundhog Club Headquarters, or shop for local arts and crafts throughout the town. If you’re looking for some lighter entertainment, you’re sure to enjoy one of the several free showings of Billy Murray’s “Groundhog Day.”
Punxsutawney Phil even has his own wine trail that runs through the neighboring towns, and a special Groundhog Wine Trail Festival is held every year in nearby Clearfield on the Saturday closest to Groundhog Day. This is a great way to sample some of the fantastic local wines in one place.
However, no matter what other events are held, the clear star of the show is Punxsutawney Phil. What will his prediction be for 2014? I’m rooting for an early spring, but we’ll have to wait and see.
by Jim Cheney
Jim Cheney is a freelance writer who lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. While he’s traveled the world in the past and written about many exotic destinations, he’s now focusing on uncovering the best travel destinations in Pennsylvania. For more of his work, visit his sites, UncoveringPA.com and Tripologist.com.