The Fat Rat Sees His Shadow
It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Around the country there are many imitators of me.
In Harrisburg there is Gus who appears on TV working for the lottery.
Then all around town, cute groundhog statues abound. They all look like me, I found.
Today on the Knob as I'm doing my job, I don't like this likeness of me.
It's my shadow I see. Six more weeks of mild winter there will be.
No one said the fat rat was a poet.
So how did this silly celebration start? Why are 20,000 drunk Pennsylvanians clammoring for a groundhog to come out of his burrow anyway?
Groundhog Day comes from the European Christian tradition of Candlemas...the 40th day after Christmas. There's a Scottish saying, " "If Candlesmas Day is bright and clear, There'll be two winters in the year." Germans used a badger in their celebrations, and they brought their tradition to America when they settled in Punxsutawny, PA. The first official American Groundhog Day was February 2, 1887 at Gobbler's Knob. Interestingly, the celebration was closed to the public until 1966.
Those old gents that host the event are known as The Inner Circle. They're charged with taking care of the Phil the groundhog, and carry out the tradition of holding the fat rat up in the air as one of them reads Phil's poetic prediction.
Phil has predicted 6 more weeks of winter an astonishing 94% of the time since 1887. The last time Phil said there would be an early Spring was back in 1999. So is the fat rat accurate?
That depends on whom you ask. Those that believe in the groundhog say he's 100% accurate. Of course, they've downed their tenth beer by the time you get around to interviewing them after the fireworks, the music, the dancing, and finally, Phil's prediction. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, they couldn't identify any sort of predictive skill in Phil's predictions. They compared the nation's average temperatures in February and March with Phil's announcement, and couldn't find any real link between the two. The NOAA's final conclusion, Phil is no more accurate that the average weatherman.
I'm sure all those meteorologists are happy to hear that some fat rat is just about as skillful as them when it comes to predicting the weather.
Phil is so popular, he has his copycats:
General Beauregard Lee - Atlanta, Georgia
Wiarton Willie - Warton, Ontario,Canada
Sir Walter Wally - Raleigh, North Carolina
Pee Wee - Vermont
To see all the groundhogs, go HERE...it's a map showing all the different prognosticators.
But there is only ONE Punxsutawny Phil. To see the goofy 2006 celebration held this morning at Gobbler's Knob...click HERE.
Maybe Phil could predict the winner of Superbowl XL, but I think he'd be a little biased.