Thousands gathered early Friday for the annual Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, where Pennsylvania’s famous furry forecaster called for an early spring.
While you were sleeping, thousands of people (including Gov. Josh Shapiro and his family) were in Western Pa. partying at Gobbler’s Knob early Friday morning in anticipation of Punxsutawney Phil’s annual Groundhog Day weather prediction.
Would he see his shadow, as he usually does, and predict six more weeks of winter? Or would there be no shadow, and a call for an early spring?
The world’s most famous groundhog emerged at 7:22 a.m. to let us know that an early spring is on the way.
It marked just the 21st time Phil has predicted an early spring, to 107 extended winter forecasts, according to records kept by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. That works out to an accuracy rate of roughly 39% for Phil as per Stormfax Almanac.
Of course, the club says that any errors are caused by humans inaccurately translating Phil’s prediction.
About 10,000 people have made their way in recent years to Punxsutawney, where festivities begin in the dead of night and culminate in the midwinter forecast. A bundled-up crowd, some wearing groundhog-themed hats, watched musical performances and fireworks as they waited for sunrise and the appearance of Punxsutawney Phil.
Gov. Shapiro took the stage to urge people around the world watching the festivities to come to Punxsutawney next year for the country’s largest and best known Groundhog Day celebration. Shapiro also announced Phil is the new official meteorologist for Pennsylvania.
“Punxsutawney is the center of the universe right now and I love that you’re all here,” Shapiro said.
There are more than a dozen active groundhog clubs in Pennsylvania, some dating back to the 1930s, and weather-predicting groundhogs have appeared in at least 28 US states and Canadian provinces.
The 1993 blockbuster film “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray, fueled interest in Punxsutawney Phil and inspired informal observations far and wide.
When he’s not making his annual prognostication, Phil lives in a customized space beside the Punxsutawney Memorial Library, with a window where library patrons can check out his burrow. Back in 2009, library workers said Phil had somehow managed to escape three times, climbing into the library ceiling and dropping into offices about 50 feet away. He wasn’t injured.
If you’ve ever wondered how a small town in Western Pa. became the center of the Groundhog Day universe, we’ve got the details in this story.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.
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