PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA.: An end to winter’s bitter cold will come soon, according to Pennsylvania’s famous groundhog.
Following a recent stretch of weather that’s included temperatures well below freezing as well as record warmth, tornadoes in the South and Midwest and torrential rains in the mid-Atlantic, Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his lair Saturday in front of thousands but didn’t see his shadow.
Legend has it that if the furry rodent sees his shadow on Feb. 2 on Gobbler’s Knob in west-central Pennsylvania, winter will last six more weeks. But if he doesn’t see his shadow, spring will come early.
Ohio’s Buckeye Chuck, the star rodent at a festival attended by hundreds Saturday morning in Marion, concurred with his furry associate in Punxsutawney.
The Pennsylvania prediction is made during a ceremony overseen by a group called the Inner Circle. Members don top hats and tuxedos for the ceremony on Groundhog Day each year.
Phil is known as the “seer of seers” and “sage of sages.”
Bill Deeley, president of the Inner Circle, said that after “consulting” with Phil, he makes the call in deciphering what the groundhog has to say about the weather.
“I just hope he’s right and we get warmer weather soon,” said Mike McKown, 45, an X-ray technician who drove up from Lynchburg, Va., with his mother.
Organizers estimated about 20,000 people attended ceremonies Saturday, a larger-than-normal crowd because Groundhog Day falls on a weekend this year.
About 13,000 attend if Feb. 2 falls on a weekday.