Happy Groundhog Day, everyone! Here are a few stats and facts to help celebrate. (Check here and here to see if Phil saw his shadow. They usually announce it around 7:20 A.M. Eastern.)
1. Don't put too much stock in Punxsutawney Phil's prediction. He's been making them since 1886, and he's only been right 39% of the time. So you'd be better off flipping a coin. That said, the Groundhog Club claims he's never wrong. They say it's their fault for misinterpreting his language, "Groundhogese."
2. He usually predicts six more weeks of winter. Coming into today, he'd seen his shadow 106 times, plus one "partial shadow" in 1942. He's only said "no shadow" 19 times that we know of. There are 10 years where there's no record.
(The partial shadow was a statement about World War Two. He supposedly said, "War clouds have blacked out parts of the shadow." Then 1943 was the only year he didn't make an appearance at all.)
3. They used to EAT Phil after he made his prediction. They served him up after the first official Groundhog Day in 1887 and said he was quite "tender."
4. Despite that fact, officials at the Groundhog Club claim he's immortal. He supposedly drinks something called the "Elixir of Life" every summer, and they've been using the same groundhog all these years.
5. Phil has a wife. Her name is Phyllis. They've never had kids. The Groundhog Club says she doesn't drink the Elixir of Life and ISN'T immortal.
6. During Prohibition, Phil threatened to take drastic action. He said if they didn't let him have a drink, he'd impose SIXTY more weeks of winter.
7. The Gobbler's Knob event attracts thousands of people. The record was around 40,000 in 2020. Then the next year, it was ZERO. They did it virtually in 2021 because of COVID-19. Before the Bill Murray movie came out 30 years ago this month, only around 2,000 people were showing up for it.
8. Speaking of the movie, some nut just finished watching it every day for a FULL YEAR. He wrote an article about it for TheConversation.com, and says he went through four stages while watching it . . .
The first month was fun, and he focused on the story. But after that, he knew it so well, all he could do was zone in on tiny details.
For example, there's a kid in a wheelchair in the background of a hospital scene. He realized it's the same kid Bill Murray starts catching every day when he falls out of a tree.
The third stage started six months in after he'd basically memorized everything. He says watching the movie was pretty miserable at that point, and he was TALKING to the characters as it played.
But the fourth stage came around month nine, when he started to enjoy it again for some reason. Partly because he was talking about it with other fans.
It sounds like his final viewing was a big relief though. He celebrated by watching it at a movie theater. He says he might watch it again, but not anytime soon.
(USA Today / PennLive / History.com / Weather.com / Groundhog.org / The Conversation)