Phil Sees His Shadow – Six More Weeks Of Winter!

9:45am: Update to this article: Phil did INDEED see his shadow! Also a funny coincidence happened right afterwards.  Bill Deeley, Phil’s longtime handler announced his retirement.  We could have had some fun with our story from last night and made it appear that Bill retired after too much pressure from us.  Not so though…but it would have been a funny add on!

Today is Groundhog Day! Let me start by saying that I wrote this little article last night, without any knowledge of what the fat, furry creature would be predicting for this winter.  I wrote a day or two ago that I predicted that Punxsutawney Phil would end up seeing his shadow and we’d get six more weeks of winter.  I made that prediction for a couple of reasons.

First, we haven’t yet HAD six weeks of winter, so the odds were with us, even though the weather forecast for Gobbler’s Knob is a 40% chance of rain and cloudy skies.  You might ask WHY then would I be so bold as to predict that he’ll see his shadow on a day not likely of producing shadows.

That brings me to the SECOND reason for our bold prediction.  We have infiltrated Gobbler’s Knob and replaced Phil with a cloned version that has been trained to predict nothing BUT more winter!  It took a little doing.  We had to raise enough money to bribe Bill Deeley, his official handler and Bob Roberts, his official “protector”.  A lot of the other guys that make up “the inner circle” as they call it in Punxsutawney are just old as heck and could probably care less what happened to the furry little marmot!

Hold a minute, my phone’s ringing. “Hello.  Yes.  Yes. You’re kidding? No!  Oh well, it was only money.”  Okay I’m back.  That was my partner in crime.  Seems we wasted our money, because according to officials IN Gobbler’s Knob, the darned critter seems to like winter SO much that he normally sees his shadow REGARDLESS of what’s happening weather-wise.  Seems that since 1887 and some (118) Groundhog Days, the furry little creature has picked “six more weeks of winter” 87% of the time! That’s almost nine out of every ten times!  Some scholarly people will immediately look at the above stats and figure my math is incorrect, however of the (118) years, there have been (9) years wherein “no records” were kept as to what his decisions were.  Hey I’m betting (8) of those (9) years were six more weeks of winter.

With that bit of revelation, I’m now motivated to admit that we didn’t really bribe Bill and Bob. Okay, we TRIED to bribe them, but they wouldn’t take a bribe.  Seems that money’s not all that important around a town like Punxsutawney. Okay, maybe the $20 bucks we offered as a bribe wasn’t sufficient, but that’s all we could scrounge up! Additionally NO groundhogs were hurt in the writing of this story and we don’t support cloning of anything – so, you guessed it, we have no cloned version helping our odds.

Yesterday we hinted that we’d hired a hit man that was on standby to take the furry dude out if he didn’t cooperate.  But now that you know our budget, you’ve probably guessed that was a lie as well.

So we’re left with taking our chances that the critter will cooperate and make a favorable prediction, but I like our odds at 87%!

Here’s some interesting Groundhog Day notes:

Everytime I hear about Groundhog Day and think about two things.  First is the 1993 release of the film Groundhog Day…which by the way is a personal favorite.  I have probably watched the film whole or in part maybe twenty times.  More about the film in a moment.  The second thing I always think about it the old joke. It goes like this:

The wife of a forgetful husband awoke one morning and asked her husband, “Do you know what day this is?”

"Of course I do," he indignantly answered, as he was going out the door to the office.
At 10 AM, the doorbell rang and when the woman opened the door, she was handed a box containing a dozen long stemmed red roses. At 1 PM, a foil wrapped, two pound box of her favorite chocolates arrived. Later, a boutique delivered a designer dress.
The woman couldn’t wait for her husband to come home.
"First the flowers, then the chocolates and then the dress!" she exclaimed.
 "I’ve never had a more wonderful Groundhog Day in my life!"

The strange ritual of marmot meteorology –

On February 2 of each year, everyone in the U.S. (and in numerous other countries) who reads, listens to, or watches the news is guaranteed to encounter at least one story about Groundhog Day. The stories will be exactly the same as the ones from last year, the year before, and every year for the past few decades…which in itself is something like the plot of the film Groundhog Day.

But every Feb 2nd, at around 7:30 a.m., Punxsutawney Phil emerges reluctantly from his comfy quarters in a small Pennsylvania town and, with a crowd of tens of thousands watching, either sees his shadow or doesn’t. Regardless of his decision the festival goers celebrate for a few hours and head home.  Kind of a silly excuse to get together and party since the simpleton picks more winter 87% of the time – don’t you think?!

Sillier still is that every year the news media repeat, for the umpteenth time, that this ritual has been going on since 1887, though it has been a public event only since 1966. They often point out that the rodent called “groundhog” (Marmota monax) is a type of marmot also known as the woodchuck or whistle pig. They also, since 1993, mention the romantic comedy starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell in which Murray’s character gets stuck in a bizarre time loop that forces him to relive Groundhog Day dozens of times in a row.  Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. (I borrowed that last line from the film.)

Even sillier, news media tell us the obviously false official proclamations that there has only ever been ONE Punxsutawney Phil in ALL these years (despite the fact that a groundhog’s average lifespan is only about 10 years in captivity and half that in the wild).

Oh yea, they also tell us that the predictions are not rigged in advance; and that Phil is always correct.  Sure, and Pamela Anderson breasts are real too!

The fact is some more scientific type people have stated that Phil has only been correct some 25% of the time.  That is kind of odd since he picks the same way almost 90% of the time.  You’d have to figure that he’d accidentally get it right about half of that time. Fact is Phil is probably blowing the predictions on purpose. It’s usually COLD as heck in Pennsylvania this time of year and Phil probably resents the heck out of being dragged out of bed at 7am or so in the morning and into the cold.

Phil Has Become More Popular Since 1993!

Even with it (118) years of history behind it, Punxsutawney Phil’s day in the sun (pun definitely intended!) was not to be a popular event until around 1966.  Even over the next several years less than 10,000 or so people attended the event annually.  After the Groundhog Day film was made, the festival caught on and back in 1997 more than 35,000 people attended, in large part because they were intrigued with the beautiful town of Punxsutawney, Pa.  The film showed the wonderful, throwback look to the town, the quiet and friendly townspeople, etc.  Funny thing IS though, that the movie wasn’t even FILMED in Punxsutawney!

In 1992, Bill Murray joined the festivities to study for his upcoming role. Then Columbia Pictures set out to recreate the Punxsutawney Groundhog Day celebration right down to the smallest detail.  There were, however, many changes made.

Columbia Pictures decided to film the movie in a location more accessible to a major metropolitan center.  The highways in and around Punxsutawney were few, so Woodstock, Illinois was chosen as the site.  Unfortunately Woodstock’s landscape doesn’t include Pennsylvania’s rolling hills.  So MORE adjustments had to be made.  The actual Gobbler’s Knob is a wooded hillside with an extraordinary view.  The one in the movie takes place in the town’s square.  However, many other details such as store names and shops were all duplicated to look as close to the real thing as possible.  Police cars, groundhog trash cans and other items were brought it to make it look as close to the real thing as possible.

According to many Punxsutawney townspeople, many of the visitors who have since traveled to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania have “have wondered why it looks so different, yet seems so similar!”

So, as of 7:30am or so, Groundhog Day spokesmen will step up to the microphone and say, “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary’ has – SEEN HIS SHADOW!’

Until Next Time!

Be sure to check out for more news and stories for all of the Southeast’s ski areas.

Be sure to email photos, snow reports and comments to: [email protected]