Groundhog Day

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Those who braved the cold of a February morning at Gobbler’s Knob hoping for a promise of relief from the icy chill ultimately walked away disappointed Thursday, when Punxsutawney Phil — Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of Prognosticators — proclaimed that six more weeks of winter awaited his adoring public.

His chosen scroll read:

“I see the morning has brought the finest people. I see their bravery and spirit. The time has come, I can feel it; the excitement, I can hear it. I see the folks with gray in their hair, and I see the kids all young and scrawny, their eyes and cheeks aglow from the cold, clean air of sweet Punxsutawney. I see that everyone knows their part, and I am merely the sage. But above all else I see a shadow on my stage. And so no matter how you measure, it’s six more weeks of winter weather.”

As with every Groundhog Day, people crowded Gobbler’s Knob well before the break of dawn. Members of the Groundhog Club Inner Circle did their best to keep the crowd warm and entertained for hours prior to the 7:30 a.m. prognostication. The finalists from Wednesday’s Gobbler’s Knob Got Talent competition — opera singer Payton Tanner of Vera Beach, Florida, and Rockton duo Denny and Sue Shaffner with their Phil-themed take on the old standard “The Wellerman” — performed one last time. Tanner was declared the winner of the $500 grand prize, and was invited back to the stage later for the singing of the national anthem.

Also helping with the entertainment were the Philette dancers from the Punxsutawney Area High School, Miss Pennsylvania Alysa Bainbridge and Miss Virginia Victoria Chuah.

Another special guest was Josh Shapiro, making one of his first public appearances after taking office as Pennsylvania’s governor a few short weeks ago. He brought his family to see the sights as well.

“I’m thrilled to be here and grateful that the Inner Circle included me,” he said. “How cool are these guys from the Inner Circle, and how amazing is Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania?”

“Phil may be the draw, but you’re the reason I’m here, because you’re the very best of Pennsylvania,” he told the crowd. “You’re tough, you’re resilient, and you know how to have a good time.”

He encouraged those in attendance to start thinking about making the trek again next year — and those watching from the warmth of their homes to join the festivities in person next time.

Following Phil’s prognostication, his Phaithful Phollowers dispersed from Gobbler’s Knob at the dawn of a crisp, sunny winter day.

It was still very, very cold.

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