The Other February Holiday! Groundhog Day

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( this article ran in the Morning Call last year on Groundhog Day).
Phil is the real deal. The others are just imposters. Well that’s what people in Pennsylvania think of Punxsutawney Phil. He’s the weather-forecasting celebrity groundhog that every year on Feb. 2 comes out of his burrow on Gobbler’s Knob in western Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney and either sees his shadow (six more weeks of winter) or doesn’t (an early spring.)
While he doesn’t use computer models or Doppler radar, Phil’s a famous forecaster w/ his own special day, Groundhog Day. Here are five fun facts about Phil & Groundhog Day:
1) Accurate? Not so much…According to the National Climatic Data Center, Phil has been wrong 15 times since 1988.
2) Critter Competition:  Phil isn’t the only animal weather man.  He faces other furry forecasters such as Buckeye Chuck of Ohio, General Beauregard Lee of Georgia, Staten Island Chuck and Wiarton Willie of Ottawa, Canada.
3) Phil is immortal: Phil has been making predictions for more than 131 years. Legend has it he get his longevity from drinking the “elixir”, a sip every summer at the Groundhog Picnic and it magically adds 7 more years to his lifespan. (Groundhogs typically live six to eight years.)  Outside of his supernatural sip, Phil is like other groundhogs and gets most of his liquids from dewy leaves.  He also enjoys eating greens, fruits and vegetables,
4) His posse:  Phil always has backup from “The Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle,” aka. the guys in the top hats.  The club is made up of local dignitaries responsible for carrying on the Groundhog Day.  Once Phil emerges from his burrow, he tells the president of the Inner Circle in “Groundhigese” his forecast which is then translated  for the proclamation.
5) “I Got You Babe”: Groundhog Day, of course, has its own holiday film.  The 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” is a classic.  Bill Murray plays a TV weatherman forced to live the same day over and over again until he gains some insight into his life. Didn’t win any awards but still a favorite! 


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