There’s nothing more that I am looking forward right now than spring.  We decided to be there in Punxsutawney to see what Phil had to say on Groundhog Day.
We got up at 4AM, and after a shower and packing lunches, made it to Punxsutawney by 6AM.  It is a small town about 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.  Every year on February 2nd, a groundhog, known as Phil, emerges from his slumber and prognosticates the weather.  If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.  If he doesn’t, there will be an early spring.  This was the 125th Groundhog day, and the weather wasn’t cooperating.  We faced freezing rain on the drive there.

The first thing we did upon arriving was park at WalMart and buy shuttle tickets to Gobbler’s Knob. 
There’s no parking there, so the only way to get there are on buses – unless you want to walk 1.5 miles.
Upon our arrival at Gobbler’s Knob,
we were greeted by pre-dawn fireworks from Zambelli.  They were decent.  The grand finale was pretty nice, but of course I didn’t record it.  Here’s a brief video of what I got:

Yeah, not the greatest video.  I was dealing with freezing rain, mud, and ice everywhere.  It was pretty messy.  We made our way over to a fire for where we stood and warmed up for a few minutes, before heading over to the hill where a large crowd had gathered.

Check out the hats that we were sporting:
Unfortunately, my camera’s batteries died, and I didn’t have any backups, so the rest of the pictures had to be taken on my mini video recorder.

Here’s picture of the festivities:
and the crowd. 
I would estimate four or five thousand, a far cry from the ten to fifteen that they’ve had in previous years.  But, the weather was pretty bad.

The pre-Phil entertainment featured several dancers, and three members of the inner circle who danced around in anticipation of Phil’s forecast.

Video 1:

Video 2:

The man with the goatee in the top hat was rather entertaining to watch.  He was doing his best to be cool.  Anyway, after 7AM, dawn was just around the corner, and it was time for the National Anthem:

Afterwards, members of the exclusive inner circle made their way through the crowd with a police escort and onto the stage.
The president of the inner circle then explained to the crowd what was about to happen.

Two handlers knocked on the stump, and pulled Phil out, holding him in the air for all to see.  They then placed him on top of the stump platform and gathered around.  After some tension filled seconds, a verdict was reached.

You can watch the video here:

Phil did not see his shadow, which meant spring is just around the corner!  It was the 16th time in the past 125 years that he didn’t see his shadow.

I was happy.
Afterwards, there was an opportunity to go down to the stage and have pictures taken with Phil and the inner circle, but it was freezing.  So we left.
And got into large lines to board a bus to take us back into town.
It was pretty muddy and cold,
so we were looking forward to hopping back on the bus and doing some exploring in town.

Once we got into town, were had to be wary of not just ice,
but religious activists who were seemingly on every street corner passing out pamphlets.
There’s not much to downtown Punxsutawney,
but there are Groundhogs everywhere.  Literally everywhere.  There are thirty of them hidden around the town.  We posed with some of them.

Summer Groundhog:
High Five!
Holding a Lantern:
DSC00129.JPGFlowery Groundhog:
McDonald’s Groundhog:

We also put out faces in groundhog cutouts.    There were groundhogs everywhere.
DSC00142.JPGUp until this time, the weather had cooperated.  There was some freezing rain early this morning, but other than that, it had just been cold and damp.  Until the skies opened up with a hail storm:

Luckily, we found shelter underneath a store awning until it passed.
We spent some time in the stores, bought a few souvenirs, and then headed home before noon.

It was a great little trip. 

We visited my dad in the hospital on the way back. 
He had some invasive surgery that will knock him out of action for Spring Training, but it went smoothly and he’s recovering there.  He’s gone with me the last four years.

Spring is just around the corner.  Spring Training is less than 10 days away as I sit here writing.  Get ready.

One comment

  1. raysrenegade

    Looks like that quiet and quaint little Pa town rocks this day like a hurricane.
    I never really imagined to what extent the town went in festivities and events untilyou posted the photos and reccolections of the event.
    Just goes to show you what starts out as something small can grow like a weed into a glorious one day event.
    Hopefully the assorted camera fashbulbs did not produce a false shadow.
    Thanks for showing us the Punxsutawney celebration from A-to-Z.

    Rays Renegade