Strange News

Phil, Wally Predict Early Spring

Posted February 2, 2007

— Punxsutawney Phil and Sir Walter Wally both predicted an early spring in annual Groundhog Day ceremonies.

A new pair of hands pulled Punxsutawney Phil from his stump this year, so it was only fitting that the groundhog offered a new prediction.

Phil did not see his shadow on Friday, which, according to German folklore, means folks can expect an early spring instead of six more weeks of winter.

Later Friday, Sir Walter Wally and his handlers at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences also called for an early spring.

Since 1886, Phil has seen his shadow 96 times, hasn't seen it 15 times and there are no records for nine years, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The last time Phil failed to see his shadow was in 1999.

More than 15,000 revelers milled about in a misty snow waiting for the prediction, as fireworks exploded overhead and the "Pennsylvania Polka" and other music blared in the background.

Sammi Gainor, 17, said she and her father first attended the ceremony about four years ago. "Since then it's really been just good memories of things I do together with my dad," she said.

"It's just kind of fun seeing people go so crazy about a groundhog," Richard Gainor said.

Longtime handler Bill Deeley retired and was replaced Friday by Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle members John Griffiths and Ben Hughes.

"It's a lot of work, but it's exciting to know you're a part of one of the most phenomenal parts of American folklore," Hughes said.

Each February 2, thousands of people descend on Punxsutawney, a town of 6,100 people about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, to celebrate what had essentially been a German superstition.

The Germans believed that if a hibernating animal cast a shadow February 2 - the Christian holiday of Candlemas - winter would last another six weeks. If no shadow was seen, legend said spring would come early.

Rick McFerron, an administrator at Indiana University of Pennsylvania some 30 miles away, walked the whole way to the ceremony to celebrate his 60th birthday and to raise money for breast cancer research.

He said he was skeptical of the groundhog's prediction.

"It's supposed to get bitter cold this weekend," McFerron said.


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • scoobeedo68 Feb 6, 2007

    Where's the snow???? I want lots and lots of cold weather!!!!!! Besides, here lately we have gone straight from winter to summer and summer to spring or fall...I want it COLD!!!

  • RedStatesManWatts Feb 4, 2007

    Spring, next week would not be soon enough for me.

  • raswph Feb 2, 2007

    It's sad that people in society just can't enjoy the simple folklore's. I am thankful for the simple things of life....spring comes early so be it....if it doesn't we all have something to say about a Christian folklore....Enjoy life and it's simple pleasure's you may not get to see the nex groudhog ya guys

  • roxannasweb Feb 2, 2007

    YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY I am a July baby, so I am ready for the warmth!!!

  • g88ky Feb 2, 2007

    yeah, and i bet monkeys will fly right out of our butts without warning too!

    although, they can probably do a better job than the forecasters!
    ;c )

  • packandcanesfan Feb 2, 2007

    As a winter fan, I have to say BOOOOOOO!! :)

  • this is my Screen Name Feb 2, 2007

    "I know it's sick.......This may sound sick....." Ya think?

  • swamprunner7630 Feb 2, 2007

    Actually ground hog tast more like beef. I did not know it was ground hog for quite a few years. Quite yummy.
    People say gator taste like chicken but it does not. It has a little fishy taste. It tried some when I went to Gatorland in Florida. It was okay, we had the gator ribs and gator nuggets.
    Oh I love animals they are so yummy. I have Bambi and his little friends in my freezer. This may sound sick but I have wondered the past years if different breeds of dogs tast different. You know if say a Poodle tast different than a German Shepard. I know it's sick and I probably would not find out if given a chance but I wonder.

  • hetherandstones Feb 2, 2007

    Now how often does this really have an impact on when spring starts, according to statistical data?

  • davidgnews Feb 2, 2007

    I'll bet they taste like rat.