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Groundhog Day 2013

Early spring? The groundhog says…

Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Scott Stump, MSN TODAY Animal Tracks contributor

Let the spring fever commence!

Punxsutawney Phil crawled out early Saturday morning and did not see his shadow, signaling it will be an early spring.

"Spring, bring it on," said TODAY’s Erica Hill.

"The groundhog has proved me wrong once again," said TODAY’s Dylan Dreyer, who guessed the Phil would see his shadow. "He messes me up."

Anthony Quintano / NBC News

This year is the 127th Groundhog Day celebration, which is held at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

Coming into this year, Phil had seen his shadow 100 times and had not seen it only 16 times since 1886, according to Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle. There are no records for the missing 10 years. The 15 members of the inner circle, clad in tophats and tuxedos, decide in advance whether to announce Phil has seen his shadow or not, even though the groundhog does the symbolic duty.

In Punxsutawney, which is about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, the groundhog annual makes his prediction on a hill known as Gobbler’s Knob. The event annually attracts more than 15,000 people and brought as many as 30,000 in the wake of the 1993 release of the Bill Murray classic movie "Groundhog Day,” according to the Inner Circle. There also are updates on Twitter and Facebook.

Alex Wong / Getty Images

According to local reports, about 35,000 people gathered to watch Phil’s annual forecast.

The celebration dates to the early Christians in Europe, particularly the Germans, who were some of the earliest settlers of Pennsylvania and believed the groundhog’s intelligence was such that if the sun came out on Feb. 2 it would be smart enough to go back underground for another six weeks of winter. The first written observance of the tradition came in 1886 after it had earlier been conducted privately in wooded areas outside town.

Slideshow: Punxsutawney Phil, the weather-prognosticating groundhog

David Maxwell / EPA

Groundhog Day 2013: Staten Island Chuck predicts early spring for New York City

NY Daily News: Chuck did not see his shadow when he came out of his burrow at the Staten Island Zoo this morning

Staten Island Chuck did not see his shadow, as City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn, was on hand for the February 2nd ritual, with other city officials at the Staten Island Zoo for the annual Groundhog festivities.  Quinn wore special gloves made of Kevlar, made special for the Mayor who could not attend, after being bit last year.  (Joe Marino for New York Daily News)

Joe Marino/for New York Daily News – Staten Island Chuck did not see his shadow this year.

The city is due for an early spring according to Staten Island Chuck, who did not see his shadow – or old rival Mayor Bloomberg – Saturday morning.

The local groundhog did not spot his shadow when he crawled out of his home in the Staten Island Zoo, which mirrored the prediction of his more acclaimed brethren, Punxsutawney Phil.


Joe Marino/for New York Daily News -  City Council Speaker Christine Quinn wore special gloves made of Kevlar for 2013’s Groundhog Day festivities. The gloves made specially for the Mayor, who could not attend after being bitten last year.

Bloomberg was a noticeable no-show for the event. He famously was bitten by the rodent in 2009 and has repeatedly made his hatred of Chuck a running joke in the following years.

A mayoral spokesman noted that this was the fifth time out of his 12 years in office that Bloomberg did not attend the Groundhog Day event. No reason for his absence was provided.


Joe Marino/for New York Daily News -  Staten Island Chuck coming out of his home at the Staten Island zoo.

His Hizzoner’s role was filled by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who can have many more up-close-and-personal encounters with Chuck if she is successful in her own mayoral bid. Quinn also led the ceremony in 2008.

Bloomberg has largely backed Quinn but has not offered an official endorsement. It was not clear if the Groundhog’s Day ceremony was intended to be an official passing of the torch – or, passing of heavy-duty work gloves – from Bloomberg to Quinn.


Joe Marino/for New York Daily News  -  Crowds gathered on Feb. 2, 2013 at the Staten Island Zoo to await Staten Island Chuck’s prediction of how soon spring will come.

The Speaker led the cheers when Chuck delivered his forecast soon after sunrise.

A similar, though grander, spectacle also took place about 315 miles to the west when Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his home in Gobbler’s Knob before thousands of people chanting his name.

He "consulted" with tophat-wearing local leaders before decreeing that an early spring was on the horizon.

Those tired of the bone-chilling temperatures that have blanketed the Northeast should hope that his predictive powers have grown more accurate. Last year, he declared that six more weeks of winter were ahead – yet the stretch between January and July 2012 was the warmest on record, according to the National Weather Service.

The Groundhog Day ceremony has exploded in popularity since the release of the movie by the same name, Groundhog Day, which starred Bill Murray and came out 20 years ago this week.  It is a great movie to own and make part of your yearly Groundhog Day tradition: Groundhog Day (15th Anniversary Special Edition) [Blu-ray]


Hollywood Beach (Florida) Groundhog Day event

February 3, 2013 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Holidays With Pets, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Wild Animals | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

More winter? The groundhog says…

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths holds Punxsutawney Phil. This was the 126th celebration of Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pa.


Gene J. Puskar / AP

A huge crowd gathered at Gobbler’s Knob, the tiny hill from which Phil makes his prediction on Feb. 2.

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club made their decree Thursday morning in central Pennsylvania: Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, and there’ll be six more weeks of winter. The announcement was met with boos from the enormous crowd gathered in Punxsutawney.

Folks in the East and elsewhere gave a collective shrug, as temperatures have been unseasonably warm. "But it’s the winter we’ve been having, so that’s like spring anyway," said Matt Lauer on TODAY after the news broke.

"The daffodils are already in bloom in NW Mississippi," wrote Jackie Barnes Garrett on TODAY’s Facebook page, where hundreds of people are weighing in. "We are already fighting mosquitoes and flies."

"Yesterday it was almost 60 degrees in Iowa," wrote Facebook commenter Letha Ann Alexander. But Sara LaPoint, from Colorado, has seen enough of this season. "I am SO done with snow and winter!" she wrote.

The Associated Press reported that the groundhog has seen his shadow 99 times since 1886; he’s not seen it only 16 times, according to the Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle (there are no records for the remaining years, according to the AP). Though Phil gets all the credit, it’s 15 members of the Inner Circle who decide the news in advance.

And not everyone believes the hype. "Punxsutawney Phil is a punk when it comes to weather forecasting," wrote veteran meteorologist Tim McGill on the Chicago Weather Center blog. McGill, who has covered 26 years of Phil predictions, said most weather experts "dread Groundhog Day." (For good measure, he ended his post with a recipe for woodchuck stew).

But Mike Johnston, vice president of the Inner Circle, told the AP that Phil has "never been wrong." The reason is simple, he said: Phil can’t err, because he never applies his prognostication to a specific place. "I guarantee you someone’s going to have six more weeks of winter," he said.

Ground Hog Day

Short history of Ground Hog Day… not quite like the movie (Groundhog Day):

In 1723, the Delaware Indians settled Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania as a campsite halfway between the Allegheny and the Susquehanna Rivers. The town is 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, at the intersection of Route 36 and Route 119. The Delawares considered groundhogs honorable ancestors. According to the original creation beliefs of the Delaware Indians, their forebears began life as animals in "Mother Earth" and emerged centuries later to hunt and live as men.

    The name Punxsutawney comes from the Indian name for the location
    "ponksad-uteney" which means "the town of the sandflies."
    The name woodchuck comes from the Indian legend of "Wojak,
    the groundhog" considered by them to be their ancestral grandfather.

When German settlers arrived in the 1700s, they brought a tradition known as Candlemas Day, which has an early origin in the pagan celebration of Imbolc. It came at the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Superstition held that if the weather was fair, the second half of Winter would be stormy and cold. For the early Christians in Europe, it was the custom on Candlemas Day for clergy to bless candles and distribute them to the people in the dark of Winter. A lighted candle was placed in each window of the home. The day’s weather continued to be important. If the sun came out February 2, halfway between Winter and Spring, it meant six more weeks of wintry weather.

The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College:

    February 4, 1841 – from Morgantown, Berks County (Pennsylvania) storekeeper James Morris’ diary…"Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate."

Groundhog Day and more animal news:
Punxsutawney Phil stuffs the competition
The origins of 13 enduring superstitions
Punxsutawney Phil and 7 other animals who predict the future
Will and Kate’s new puppy breed revealed!
Elephant fitted with giant contact to heal injured eye

h/t to Amy DiLuna, TODAY.com senior editor, doesn’t know from weather, but thinks that furry little meatball Phil is adorable and to Stormfax

February 2, 2012 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Holidays With Pets, Just One More Pet, On The Lighter Side | , , , | 3 Comments