PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) — The handlers of Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, said the furry rodent has “predicted” six more weeks of winter after seeing his shadow at dawn Thursday.
The top hat-wearing members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle reveal Phil’s forecast every Feb. 2, based on a German legend surrounding Candlemas. The legend says if a furry rodent casts a shadow that day, winter continues. If not, spring comes early.
In reality, Phil’s prediction is decided ahead of time by the group on Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
Thousands of people gathered overnight to await the forecast. They were treated to folk music and a Star Wars-themed fireworks display under cloudy skies, with temperatures just below freezing, while they waited.
The groundhog’s prediction is typically contained in a short poem, sometimes referencing current events or — when the nearby Pittsburgh Steelers are participating — a comment on the Super Bowl, which usually follows a few days later.
But this year, Phil stayed on message and didn’t reference football, President Donald Trump or anything other than the weather.
“It’s mighty cold weather, you’ve been braving. Is it more winter or is it spring that you’re craving? Since you’ve been up all night and starting to tottle, I, Punxsutawney Phil, shall not dawdle,” the proclamation read. “My faithful followers, I could clearly see a beautiful, perfect shadow of me. Six more weeks of winter, it shall be!”
Records dating to 1887 show Phil has now predicted more winter 103 times while forecasting an early spring just 18 times — including last year. There are no records for the remaining years.
People of Illinois celebrated Groundhog Day in Woodstock, the town famous for the movie “Groundhog Day,” with their own groundhog, Woodstock Willie.
A crowd gathered Thursday morning in Woodstock Square to watch Willie crawl out of his tree stump and decide when spring will arrive. Willie was in agreement with Punxsutawney Phil – both groundhogs saw their shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter.
(CBS Chicago and The Associated Press contributed to this copy. TM and © Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)