Over 40,000 people gathered in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to witness the annual Groundhog Day celebrations and see if the famous Pennsylvania prognosticator, Punxsutawney Phil, would see his shadow. According to tradition, if the groundhog sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter, but if it doesn’t, an early spring is on the way.
The tradition of using a groundhog to predict the weather dates back to the Pennsylvania Dutch belief that emerged in 1887. The event in Punxsutawney, known as Gobbler’s Knob, has become a major yearly occurrence, complete with top-hatted hosts, enthusiastic crowds, and live coverage.
Phil and his predecessors have been forecasting the weather for the past 134 years, and this year’s event drew a crowd of over 40,000 people who camped out in anticipation of the groundhog’s prediction.
Despite the groundhog’s mixed track record, with a 30 percent accuracy rate in the past 10 years, the event continues to draw attention. Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro even took the stage to invite people from around the world to attend next year’s festivities, declaring Punxsutawney Phil the new official meteorologist for Pennsylvania.
Other states have also adopted their own animal forecasters, such as Sun Prairie Jimmy in Wisconsin and Woody the Woodchuck in Michigan. The popularity of Groundhog Day has also been exploited by businesses, with Frito Lay preparing to air advertisements featuring actor Stephen Tobolowsky in a scenario similar to the plot of the cult film “Groundhog Day.”
The event has become a part of American culture and continues to be celebrated each year, drawing large crowds and media attention.