Not snow nor pandemic keeps Punxsutawney Phil from his job

PUNXSUTAWNEY, PENNSYLVANIA (AP) — Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor pandemic stays Punxsutawney Phil from emerging from his burrow to forecast whether there will be six more weeks of winter or an early spring.

The spectacle that is Groundhog Day at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, still went on but because of the coronavirus pandemic, revellers weren’t able to see him and celebrate in person: This year, it’s all virtual.

The event which began at 6.30am EST yesterday saw people logging on and listen to winter- and spring-inspired Spotify playlists while learning how to make at-home crafts such as the official cookie of Groundhog Day.

Then of course, the prognosticator of prognosticators — assisted by his Inner Circle — emerged at dawn, either to find his shadow or not.

The livestream from Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney about 105 kilometres northeast of Pittsburgh, is made possible by the Pennsylvania Tourism Office’s Holi-stay PA. The event there — always on February 2 — dates back to 1887.

“Whether you’re hoping for six more weeks of winter fun or an early spring, we could all use some extra happiness this year,” said department spokesperson Carrie Lepore in a release.

The annual event has its origin in a German legend about a furry rodent. Records dating to the late 1800s show Phil has predicted longer winters more than 100 times. The 2020 forecast called for an early spring — however, Phil didn’t say anything about a pandemic.

Groundhog Club co-handler Al Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather prognosticating groundhog, during the 134th celebration of Groundhog Day on Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, in this February 2, 2020, file photo. PHOTO: AP