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Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog Day

February 1, 2012 by staff 

Punxsutawney Phil Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil has his work cut out for him these days. In a year of extreme weather events and a mild Northeast winter, the groundhog could be forgiven if he got a little confused this year.

Groundhog Day is back, and Phil will emerge from his burrow at 7:25 a.m. on Thursday to make his prediction for the remainder of winter. Just before sunrise at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Penn., an expected crowd of 10,000 groundhog enthusiasts will gather to watch the rodent.

According to American folklore, if the weather is sunny when Phil emerges from his burrow, he will see his shadow and snuggle back into his burrow, indicating that winter will continue for six more weeks. But if the weather is cloudy, the groundhog will leave the burrow, signifying the arrival of an early spring.

Since taking on his job, Phil has seen his shadow 98 times and has not seen it just 16 times, including last year, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

Last year, inclement weather kept the crowd numbers low, with about 5,000 joining the festivities. “They were not the largest crowd, but they were the heartiest and most enthusiastic. This was a group of hardc*re dedicated fans of Phil,” said Mike Johnston, vice president of the Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, on Groundhog Day in 2011.

A week of festivities surrounds the main event, with firecrackers, food, and local entertainment from Jan. 28 through Feb. 4. The Salvation Army puts on an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast on Thursday.

The celebration of Groundhog Day started with Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers in the 1800s. The first official weather prediction at the Gobbler’s Knob was made by Phil on Feb. 2, 1887, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

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