AT A GLANCE
- Each year on Feb. 2, thousands of revelers travel to Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., (northcentral part of the state approximately 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh) to witness the prediction.
- Punxsutawney Phil has the mythical ability of forecasting either an early spring or long winter. Phil has only predicted an early spring 20 times in the last 135 years.
- If Phil sees his shadow, he predicts six more weeks of winter and returns to his burrow. If he does not see his shadow, spring is just around the corner.
- With the help of his keepers and protectors, the tuxedo-clad members of the mysterious Inner Circle, Phil shares that prediction with the world from the region known as the Pennsylvania Wilds.
- The first legendary trek to Gobbler’s Knob occurred in 1887. This year, Phil celebrates 136 years of prognosticating.
- Crowds numbering as high as 30,000 have visited Gobbler’s Knob for a multi-day festival celebrating the town’s most famous resident — Punxsutawney Phil.
- European Roots that continued in Pennsylvania.
- The custom dates back to the early days of Christianity in Europe and grew out of a winter festival called Candlemas Day, a day for clergy to bless and distribute candles. According to legend, clear skies on Candlemas Day meant an extended winter.
- The Roman legions, during the conquest of the northern country, brought this tradition to the Germanic tribes who concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day a hedgehog would cast a shadow, and thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather or “Second Winter."
- In Germany, the hedgehog became part of the legend. The German twist was that on a clear, sunny day, the hedgehog would cast a shadow.
- Some of Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers were from Germany. They noted the area had a large population of groundhogs and because of its resemblance to the European hedgehog, the groundhog carried on the tradition.
- In 1886, a group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney dubbed themselves "The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club."
- The editor of Punxsutawney's newspaper was a member of the Club and he used his editorial clout to proclaim that Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, was the one and only official weather prognosticating groundhog. Phil's fame began to spread, and newspapers from around the globe began to report Punxsutawney Phil's predictions.
ECONOMIC IMPACT OF GROUNDHOG DAY
- While Groundhog Day is certainly a fun event for visitors, the economic impact from Pennsylvania’s most unique holiday has on the town of Punxsutawney and surrounding communities is astounding.
- Every year that Groundhog Day falls on a weekend, up to 30,000 visitors descend on Punxsutawney, prompting a significant tourism boost for the small town of just 5,770 residents. When Groundhog Day falls on a weekday, 12,000-20,000 visitors attend.
- There are nearly 600 hotel rooms in Jefferson County, where Punxsutawney is located, and another 2,000 rooms in neighboring counties. Each year, hotel rooms are sold out for the event.
- Just how much does the area benefit from this influx in visitors? The average visitor spends an estimated $200 on lodging, food, gas, and souvenirs per day while visiting Punxsutawney for Groundhog Day.
- This isn’t limited to just February 2. Many visitors come in early to be a part of all of the festivities leading up to the prognostication, which begin this year on Sunday, Jan. 30 with Lunch with Phil at the Knob.
- According to the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce, the events inject about $1 million into the region’s economy each year.
- Punxsutawney is among the quaint towns, untamed wilderness and a myriad of events that take place year round in the Pennsylvania Wilds — www.pawilds.com
- The GHC Headquarters (www.groundhog.org/visit-us/groundhog-club-headquarters/)
- The Groundhog Club Headquarters is a unique site for historical and rare Groundhog Club and Punxsutawney Phil items.
- The Gobbler’s Knob Trail (https://visitpago.com/listings/gobblers-knob-trail/)
- The Gobbler’s Knob Trail is a half mile trail featuring metal art created by students from a local trade school each year to celebrate the holiday. Trail signage timelines the history of Groundhog Day, the Inner Circle, Punxsutawney Phil, groundhog facts, and much more.
- Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center (www.weatherdiscovery.org)
- Interactive education center devoted to weather science and folklore housed in Punxsutawney’s former post office downtown, a beautiful 1914 structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Phil’s Burrow (https://www.punxsutawneylibrary.org/)
- Phil’s official home is a terrarium built in the Punxsutawney Memorial Library open to the public.
- The Phantastic Phils! public art project (http://www.punxsutawney.com/phantastic-phils)
- 31 larger-than-life fiberglass groundhogs by local and national artists located throughout town.
- Groundhog Wine Trail (www.groundhogwinetrail.com)
- Features 13 wineries in the surrounding area.
- Punxsutawney Area Historical and Genealogical Society (www.punxsyhistory.org)
- Learn about Groundhog Day history and the area’s rich industrial heritage by visiting the extensive museum complex.
- During Prohibition, Phil threatened to impose 60 weeks of winter if he didn’t get a drink.
- In 1986, he visited President Reagan in Washington, D.C.
- In 1993, Columbia Pictures released the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray.
- In 1995, Phil was on the Oprah Winfrey Show and in 2001 he enjoyed a tour of New York City, including appearances on Regis Philbin Live, the CBS Early Show, and CNN.
- In 2003, Governor Edward G. Rendell became the first Pennsylvania governor to participate in the Annual Trek to Gobbler's Knob with the Inner Circle.
- Phil is tech and social media savvy. His prediction was available via text in 2010 and more than 35,000 worldwide earned the "PA Groundhog Day" Foursquare Badge on Feb. 2, 2013.
- On Feb. 2, 2017, “A Groundhog Day Story” premiered on the Discovery Channel and took Animal Planet viewers on a journey to reveal the history and legend of Phil and those who protect him throughout the year.