This morning, Pennsylvania’s own world-famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, predicted an early spring after not seeing his shadow, a prediction so rare that it has only happened 19 times in the 133-year history of Groundhog Day.
“Every February 2nd, we look forward to celebrating this beloved Pennsylvania tradition with the rest of the world,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. “Groundhog Day is something you can only find in our commonwealth, and we’re honored to share Phil’s prediction with visitors, residents, and the millions of families watching from their homes.”
The story of the holiday tradition declares that if the groundhog emerges early on the morning of February 2 and sees his shadow, we will have six more weeks of winter weather. Should he not see his shadow, we will have an early spring. The annual event began in 1886, when a spirited group of groundhog hunters dubbed themselves “The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club” and proclaimed Punxsutawney Phil to be the one and only weather prognosticating groundhog.
The event now attracts up to 30,000 visitors to Punxsutawney, Jefferson County, located about 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter weather 104 times while forecasting an early spring just 19 times.
“Even in the 133rd year, sharing Punxsutawney Phil’s prognostication with the world never ceases to amaze me,” said Groundhog Club Inner Circle President Bill Deeley. “I think it’s safe to say our favorite furry weather forecaster has a special place in the nation’s heart.”
Punxsutawney was originally a Native American campsite. Its location is situated halfway between the Allegheny and Susquehanna rivers, which made it convenient for travel. In fact, the town is located on the earliest known trail to the east, the Shamokin Path. Punxsutawney was officially incorporated as a borough in 1850 and has a current population of nearly 5,500.
Other attractions in Punxsutawney include the Weather Discover Center, Mahoning Shadow Trail, Phil’s Borrow at the Punxsutawney Memorial Library, and the Phantastic Phils – a public art project that includes 32 larger-than-life fiberglass groundhogs all creatively painted and designed by local and national artists.
Pennsylvania hosted an estimated 204.4 million travelers in 2017 who directly injected $43.3 billion into Pennsylvania’s economy and supported nearly 510,000 jobs.