Three Day Adventure to Meet the Most Experienced Weather Prognosticator – Punxsutawney Phil!

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PREDICT.PLAN.PERFORM.®  |  Firestorm’s Jack Healey is off to meet the King of Preparedness, if he can get out of Atlanta….

P2A groundhog in the hills of Pennsylvania has been predicting the beginning  of spring since 1800’s and since February 1887 has been welcoming strangers to his home in Gobbler’s Knob.  Punxsutawney Phil, named after King Phillip, is the only forecasting groundhog in the world.  After years of watching on TV and in awe of his predictive abilities, my family and I planned this summer for an adventure to Punxsutawney to see Phil in action this Groundhog’s Day February 2, 2014.  What started as a promise to my 13-year-old daughter (now 21), has blossomed in to an all out “Phil Fest”.  

First we joined “Phil’s Fan Club” which will allow us to meet the king of prognostication in person on Saturday afternoon!  I plan to ask him some questions and give the Firestorm family the ‘inside scoop’ on his predictions.  We are also attending the “Best Groundhog Phil1Day Wear Dog Competition”, the crowning of Little Mr. & Miss Groundhog and Ms. Groundhog, the Fantastic Phil Walking Tour, and if we have time, we will play in the “Groundhog Bingo” competition.  We will also see the wood carving and ice sculpting competition.

Many of you may have seen the movie “Groundhog Day”, which I must admit is why I promised my youngest daughter some 8 years ago, that we would go and see this Americana spectacle in person.  She could not believe that any of this festival was true, and as I would repeat lines from the movie all year long, Groundhog’s day has taken on a special meaning for my daughters (24 and 21 years old) and me.  Every year for the past 8 years, they receive flowers j3from Phil (or Ned Ryerson) with phrases such as “Watch that first step! It’s a doozy!” or “Wake up campers! It’s coooold outside!”.  My wife is a reluctant participant in this adventure and has learned to roll her eyes and silently groan as my excitement grew greater as February 2 approached. I believe she was secretly hoping that Atlanta’s recent ice storm would put a stop to the madness.  But even cancelled flights and rerouting to other cities will not stop us from our meeting our favorite ‘land beaver’.  

Groundhogs have a few names – ‘land beavers’ and ‘whistling pigs’ – but there is only one Punxsutawney Phil.  A groundhog can whistle when alarmed (thus the Whistling Pig name), and I guess they kind of look like a beaver, The average groundhog lives 8 years, with the exception of Phil!  There has only been one Phil in the past 127 years.  Each summer at the Groundhog Picnic he drinks ‘the Elixir of Life”, a secret punch, which gives him an additional 7 years of life.  After our family’s adventure last year to St. Augustine and drinking from the sulfur laden ‘fountain of youth’ to no avail I might add, punch at a summer picnic sounds more enticing!

The average groundhog has its ‘kits’ or ‘cubs’ in the spring and there are normally 4 to 9 in a litter.  They hibernate in the winter, except for Phil, who awakens each February to greet the thousands who make the pilgrimage to meet him.  We have to be at the shuttle to ‘The Knob” (as us Philatics call it) at 4:30 a.m. for the 7:20 event- I think the crowd may be a little rowdy since the website ( does not recommend the knob for children-it may have something to do how the spectators spend their time the night and morning awaiting Phil’s appearance.

Look for pictures and more updates this weekend; and watch that first step!  It’s a doozy!


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