Phil's chilling forecast: Six more weeks of Winter

Jeff Lundy (left), the Groundhog Club Inner Circle's vice president, showing off Phil's official scroll declaring six more weeks of winter, while co-handler John Griffiths (right) shows off Phil. (Photo by Alan Freed/The Punxsutawney Spirit)
By: 
Zak Lantz
The Punxsutawney Spirit

In the town of Punxsutawney, Groundhog Day starts long before the clock turns one tick past 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 1. Weeks of preparation go into carrying out the events surrounding Punxsutawney Phil’s annual prognostication, and hours are poured into the final few days ahead of welcoming thousands of guests to town.

But anyone who lives here — or who’s spent a whole lot of time here — knows that for one short period of time, the whole world is watching and waiting for Phil to do his thing. Each year, on the morning of February 2nd, the beloved groundhog awakens from his slumber, and with a bit of coaxing from Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle President Bill Deeley, he makes his way out of his comfy stump to tell all those folks whether they should expect six more weeks of winter or an early spring.

Many approach the festivities with a bit of hope for a new spring, but it’s the winter-loving folk in the group who win out most often. In fact, over the course of ‘Hog History, Phil has reported seeing his shadow 103 times in 121 prognostications for which the results were recorded (with 10 of his treks having no official report). That’s a not-so-promising 14.87 percent success rate for the #earlyspring crowd.

This year, as is the custom, Phil’s Inner Circle members began their trek down toward Gobbler’s Knob right around 7:10 a.m. on Friday. Of course, Phil’s fans had been flocking to the site in far-below-freezing temperatures for hours (since the Knob opened around 3 a.m.), but four hours later, it was time to get down to business.

At 7:17 a.m., those gathered at the Knob helped draw Phil out of his warm abode by chanting his name, and Deeley rapped on his door to complete the process. And when The Seer of Seers emerged, he was greeted with yet another cheer from the crowd.

Speaking to Deeley in Groundhogese, the official language of the ‘hog, Phil directed him to one of two scrolls to issue his prediction. That full prediction can be read on the scroll below, but it can also be easily summarized: Six more weeks of winter.

As is always the case, the call was met with a bit of a mixed reaction, though most never hold a grudge for long. After all, Phil’s not making the news, he’s just reporting it! And with that, preparations for Groundhog Day 2019 are officially underway.

Prior to Phil’s 132nd prognostication, the official festivities began at 6:30 a.m. with the “official Groundhog Day house band” The Beagle Brothers bringing their folk-style feel to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Then, the town got its official wake-up call with the annual fireworks show kicking off immediately afterwards.

Then, the group stayed warm by doing a bit of dancing and singing, with the help of the Punxsutawney Philette Dancers, a group of eight high school seniors who helped keep spirits high despite the chilly temperatures.

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