JANUARY 31, 2013PAGE 3
A worldwide tradition
re we going to have six moreweeks of winter? Or are we going to be blessed with the beginning of Spring? Don’tlook to your favorite weather person, look in-stead to Punxsutawney Phil, your favorite ro-dent-like creature who has been emergingfrom his cubbyhole underneath the earth since1886 when the tradition began in Punx-sutawney, Pennsylvania. Punxsutawney Philthen became even more famous than even themost famous weathermen. Including Al Roker of the Today Show. The main difference is thatPhil doesn’t need a ton of maps and other weather devices, he simply emerges from hishole, and, legend has it that if he sees hisshadow six more weeks of frigid weather will prevail. If, however, the day is cloudy andovercast and if Phil doesn’t see his shadow,Spring is just around the corner.But, lest you think that our Phil isthe only groundhog who predicts the weather,you’re sadly mistaken. There is also Dunkirk Dave, Shubenacadle Sam, Wharton Willie,General Beauregard Lee, Peewee the Wood-chuck and Staten Island Chuck. Oh, and let’snot forget Balzac Billy, also known as thePrairie Prognosticator – a young upstart whohails from Alberta, Canada.All Groundhogs look alike, how-ever. They are 20 inches long and can weighanywhere from 12 to 15 pounds. Our friend,Phil, however, weighs a hefty 20 pounds andis longer than your average groundhog at 22inches. Most of them are covered with coarsegrayish hairs, tipped with brown, or some-times red. They have short ears, a short tail,short legs, and are very quick movers. Theyhave exceptionally strong jaws. Groundhogseat mostly greens, fruits and vegetables, butdon’t drink a lot of water, getting their mois-ture from dewy leaves. Groundhogs can whis-tle when they are alarmed, they can alsowhistle in the Spring, when they are courting.Phil is also long-living, being able to survivefor seven more years due to a special liquidwhich he is fed by members of his elite club.There is only one PunxsutawneyPhil, however. He has been used for offeringsupport of political events, to rooting for areasports teams, to having a movie made of himthat starred Bill Murray, and many other events to which he has lent his famous nameand presence. Today’s celebration which hon-ors Phil on Feb. 2 each year attracts tens of thousands of fans from all over the world.They are as excited about viewing Phil’semerging from his underground lair, as theyare in viewing their favorite rock stars. Thefirst observance of Phil is credited with anewspaper called the Punxsutawney Spiritwho first recorded the appearance of the fa-mous rodent. Throughout the years, Phil has been part and parcel of some famous events,including:
*During Prohibition, Phil threatenedto impose 60 more weeks of winter ifhe wasn’t allowed a drink;*In 1958, Phil announced that it wasa “United States Chucknik rather thana Soviet Sputnik that circled theearth for the first time*In1981, Phil wore a yellow ribbon inhonor of the American hostages inIran;*Phil travelled to Washington D.C. in1986 to meet with President RonaldReagan;*Phil appeared on the Oprah Win-frey Show in 1995;*In 2001, Phil’s prediction was shownlive on the JumboTron at TimesSquare in New York City. Pennsylva-nia Governor Ed Rendell attendedthe ceremonies, becoming the firstgovernor to ever do so.
By Joe Olvera ©, 2013
P H O T O F O R I L L U S T R A T I O N P U R P O S E S O N L Y