Phil says six more weeks

Video courtesy of WCTV, Rebekah Vaughan

The world-famous Punxsutawney Phil has officially seen his shadow and predicted that there are still six more weeks of winter to come. On Wednesday, Feb. 2 at 7:25 a.m. Phil cast his prediction to local, national and international visitors and television viewers alike.

The tradition of Groundhog Day dates back over 100 years.

“German settlers came here in the 1840s and earlier than that and they kind of brought the tradition with them,” Butch Philliber, “Ice Man” of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club said. “That tradition of Groundhog Day started out because in Germany they had hedgehogs and they were plentiful here with Groundhogs.”

According to Philliber, there may be Phil imposters around the world, but Punxsutawney Phil has been around for the longest. 

“We officially count 1887 as the very first track. It was reported in 1886 that the groundhog did not appear at the time of going to the press of the Punxsutawney spirit,” Philliber said. 

Visitors came from around the world to take part in the event. Philliber said that the day before Groundhog day, two guests from Germany visited. A man with a French flag even took to the stage early Wednesday morning.

Jim McDaniel, a visitor from Albany, Oregon, was at Gobblers Knob for a special reason.

“My 50th birthday,” McDaniel said. “My brothers and I came here for my thirtieth so 20 years later we’re back and we’re sharing the experience with our wives.”

McDaniel said that he thinks so many people come out to Gobbler Knob for Groundhog Day because of the allure of it all.

“Punxy Phil has been around for a long time,” McDaniel said. “And of course Groundhogs Day and ‘Groundhog Day’ the movie.”

And while many guests traveled many hours to see Phil the Groundhog, Waynesburg University student Carter Newcome found himself back in his hometown to see the prognosticator.

“This town is where it all started for me,” Newcome said. “I love this place. I love Phil. Phil is a part of that. Phil changed my life.”

Phil may have forecasted six more weeks of winter, but until next Groundhog Day, Phil will go back to his wife Phyllis at their burrow at the roadside zoo that is connected to the Punxsutawney Memorial Library.