Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil predicts six more weeks of winter

Famed American groundhog emerges from his burrow to deliver the sad news

Punxsutawney Phil, who saw his shadow, predicted a late spring during the 136th annual Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. AFP
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There will be six more weeks of winter, Punxsutawney Phil predicted as he emerged from his burrow on Wednesday to perform his Groundhog Day duties.

Thousands of people from across the US and other countries gathered at Gobbler’s Knob as members of Phil’s “inner circle” summoned him from his tree stump at dawn to learn if he had seen his shadow, a message they said Phil communicated in “groundhogese”. After Phil’s prediction was announced, the crowd repeatedly chanted “six more weeks!”

According to folklore, spring would come early if he didn’t see his shadow.

The event took place virtually last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, depriving the community, which is about 105 kilometres north-east of Pittsburgh, of a boost from tourism. It was streamed live and seen by more than 15,000 viewers worldwide at one point. About 150 cardboard cutouts of fans were there to “watch”.

The annual event has its origin in a German legend about a furry rodent.

Records dating back to 1887 show that Phil has predicted winter more than 100 times. Ten years were lost because no records were kept, organisers said.

The 2020 forecast called for an early spring.

Punxsutawney Phil may be the most famous groundhog seer but he’s certainly not the only one, and one competitor disagreed with his prediction.

New York City’s Staten Island Chuck expects an early spring, reported Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon, who presided over a ceremony that was live-streamed from Chuck’s home at the Staten Island Zoo.

“He did not see his shadow. We will have an early spring,” Mr McMahon announced.

New York Mayor Eric Adams did not attend the ceremony but said in a videotaped message: “Chuck has been very accurate in his predictions since 1981. I think I can speak for all New Yorkers when I say, Chuck, please don’t see your shadow.”

Updated: February 02, 2022, 3:22 PM
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