GOBBLER’S KNOB – For the past 131 years, Punxsutawney’s famous, weather-forecasting groundhog, Phil, has been fetched from his burrow mid-winter Feb. 2 by members of the Inner Circle and raised overhead the thousands of onlookers who rely upon his prediction.
As the legend goes, if Phil wakes from his winter sleep and sees his shadow, he warns of six more weeks of bad weather and scampers back into his burrow. If Phil wakes and finds himself shadowless, he takes it as a sign of an early spring and stays above ground.
According to members of the Groundhog Club, Phil, after making the prediction, chatters to the club’s president in “Groundhogese.” “Groundhogese” is a language, which only the current club president can understand, and his forecast is then translated for the entire world.
At sunrise this Groundhog Day, Phil emerged from his temporary burrow surrounded by members of the Inner Circle in top hats and tuxedos. Before him there was his shadow and six more weeks of winter.
According to the Groundhog Day Web site, the Groundhog Day celebration began with Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states, “For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May…”
Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800’s. The first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob was made Feb. 2, 1887. So the legend goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br’er Groundhog.