It was like a weird wedding reception with a groundhog obsession… and I loved it.
This may come as a surprise to you, but Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney is a big ole party. Most of the crowd may have been a little drunk and delirious… many pulled all-nighters. And I was one of thousands that celebrated the night before and gathered at Gobbler’s Knob before sunrise to see the famous 130 year old groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, awaken from his slumber.
As the story goes, Phil emerges from his hole, speaks “Groundhogese” to a group of old dudes in tuxedos and top hats called “The Inner Circle” to inform them, based on whether or not he casts a shadow, if we have six more weeks of winter or if Spring is arriving early. There were fireworks and flasks, lots of singing and dancing, groundhog hats and signs, and they even played the Star Wars theme for the groundhog. Yes, it’s bizarre. It’s absurd. It’s silly. And a lot of people like to speak ill of the holiday, ole Phil and his methods of prediction.
Well, I’m here to tell you that I love it. I think its incredibly endearing that this small town in Western PA gathers thousands of people on February 2nd to tell the story of the magical rodent who predicts the arrival of Spring. Whether he sees his shadow or not, Phil reminds us that there are so many small towns that have curious stories to tell… Traditions like these are the sweet bits of America.
Thanks to Nate, Annie, Joslyn, and Jory for all the hangs, beers, and delirious dancing. My first Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney was pretty rad.