Punxsutawney Phil is going to get two new handlers Friday morning when the groundhog lets the world know if spring will come early or if he sees his shadow if winter will linger for six more weeks.
Longtime handler Bill Deeley retired last year after having hoisted the groundhog more than a dozen times. Now, Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle members John Griffiths and Ben Hughes will roust Phil from his stump on Gobbler's Knob.
The pair admitted they are not as assertive with Phil as Deeley was, the AP reports.
Since Feb. 2, 1887, the groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil has been released from his burrow on Gobbler’s Knob in a Sandy-sized town in western Pennsylvania, looking for his shadow. Once he gets out in the open, he tells his handlers whether or not he saw his shadow, using a super-secret rodent language called “Groundhogese” (I didn’t make this up – it’s on the groundhog’s official Web site).
The implications of Phil’s shadow, apparently, are huge. If he sees it, spring’s not coming for six more weeks. If there’s no shadow, spring has sprung. Though Punxsutawney is more than 2,600 miles away from the Sandy area, Phil’s prediction is probably important to a lot of us in the Northwest, sick of the seemingly endless winter gloom.
Groundhog Club Past President Bud Dunkel – a man who has known and handled Phil for nearly 40 years – said that the groundhog’s predictions are not just for Pennsylvania, the Northeast or even for the United States, lakeoswegoreview.com says
Groundhog Day grew out of what had essentially been a German superstition. German settlers brought with them the idea that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow Feb. 2 - the Christian holiday of Candlemas - winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, legend says spring will come early.
Punxsutawney is a town of about 6,100 people located about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh,
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik