“ To shorten winter, borrow some money due in spring.” W.J. Vogel
Groundhog Day is just a few days away. Will there be a shadow and six more weeks of winter, or no shadow and an early spring? Here in Nebraska the weather changes every day, sometimes a couple of times in a day, so the groundhog’s prediction doesn’t really matter for us.
This year celebrates 127 years of the famed groundhog, ‘Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary’, making his prediction. Yes, that is his full name. On February 2nd, 1886, Clymer H. Freas editor of the Punxsutawney newspaper, The Punxsutawney Spirit, first published the groundhogs prediction. One year later, on February 2nd, 1887, Clymer and a small group of groundhog hunters made the trip to the now famed location of Phil’s annual predictions, Gobbler’s Knob.
In 1993 Columbia Pictures released the heart warming and hilariious movie ‘Groundhog Day’. Bill Murray stars as Phil, a weatherman sent to witness Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction. Through living the same day over, and over, and over, he is able to make changes in his life that lead to him winning the heart of reporter Rita, played by the gorgeous Andy MacDowell.
Because of the remoteness of the rural town of Punxsutawney, Columbia Pictures decided to film the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ in a town more easily accessible. The movie was actually filmed in Woodstock, Illinois, and Gobbler’s Knob was set in the town square. The real Gobbler’s Knob is a beautifully wooded hill with a view that is just as beautiful. Punxsutawney Phil’s home is set on a stage; which, his home for the crowds is a simulated burrow inside a simulated tree trunk. Phil, whose real home is inside of the Punxsutawney Library year round, is set inside his cozy burrow and released at 7:25 am on February 2nd to make his prediction for the crowd.
Up until 1993 crowds for the celebrated event were usually around two-thousand spectators. With the release of ‘Groundhog Day’ in 1993 the crowd count was astronomical. The number of visitors to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on Groundhog Day has gone from a couple of thousand to 30,000 plus.
So far it is said that ‘Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators’ prediction accuracy is at about 39 percent. His predictions are listed in the Congressional Record and televised every year. The 127 year old groundhog also has something that no other groundhog does; he has a movie named after him!