Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhog Day


today is Groundhog Day? The first official Groundhog Day celebration took place on February 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It was the brainchild of local newspaper editor Clymer Freas, who sold a group of businessmen and groundhog hunters on the idea. The men trekked to a site called Gobbler's Knob, where the inaugural groundhog became the bearer of bad news when he saw his shadow. :)
No surprise... 6 more weeks of winter. 
Punxsutawney Lore
Prior to 1952, a groundhog named Pete was Punxsutawney's groundhog. Pete's downfall was caused by one William A. Swartworth, a rookie newsman in the Pittsburgh bureau of the Associated Press.

As the newest staffer, Swartworth was assigned to write the bureau's annual Groundhog Day story on February 2, 1952. Veteran newsmen disdained the task, feeling it was simply an exercise of the imagination, the more fanciful the better, fabricated from three basic elements- groundhog emerges from his burrow at sunrise; if he sees his shadow, it's six more weeks of wintry weather; if not, spring is ready to burst forth.

Swartworth did his job, with one exception. He changed the groundhog's name from Pete to Phil. Minutes after the story hit the news wires, the AP's Philadelphia bureau (control point for the state) sent a message challenging accuracy of the groundhog's name. Swartworth then fired off this historic reply: "Pete died. Phil is his son." Swartworth chose the name Phil after the notorious con man from the 1950's was dubbed Pittsburgh Phil. And so to this day Phil remains the world's most famous groundhog weather forecaster.
Punxsutawney Phil fans say that there is only one Phil, and that all the other groundhogs are impostors. It is claimed that Pete/Phil has made weather prognostications since 1887, making the Punxsutawney groundhog a legendary rather than factual figure, since groundhogs only live up to six years. It is publicly unknown how many groundhogs have actively played Phil.

According to the Groundhog Club, Phil, after making the prediction, speaks to the Club President in "Groundhogese", which only the current president can understand, and then his prediction is translated for the entire world.

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