GOBBLER’S KNOB – For the past 134 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 his thousands of worldwide followers 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 at around 7:26 a.m. this Groundhog Day, Phil emerged from his temporary burrow surrounded by members of the Inner Circle in top hats and tuxedos and to the cheers from his thousands of faithful followers.
In Groundhogese he directed the Inner Circle president to his prognostication scroll. It reads: “It’s a Phil fantastic day in these beautiful woods” with “thousands and thousands in the Knob neighborhood. You faithful followers are the best, it’s true. Who wouldn’t want neighbors just like you?
“Now my forecast on a day that’s a palindrome will cause some to cheer and some to moan. So, do I hope you think it’s neighborly, for there is no shadow of me, spring it’ll be early, it’s a certainty.”
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 Philip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br’er Groundhog.