Phil's 'Chilling' forecast

In the midst of the seventh our on Friday, Feb. 2, all eyes were on Punxsutawney Phil as he made his annual prognostication at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney. Pictured here are 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)
Zak Lantz, The Punxsutawney Spirit
Special to the Times

In the town of Punxsutawney, Groundhog Day starts long
before the clock turns one tick past 11:59 p.m. on February 1st. 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.