PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. – The world’s most famous groundhog saw his shadow Monday morning, predicting that this already long winter will last for six more weeks.
Punxsutawney Phil emerged just after dawn in front of an estimated 13,000 witnesses, many dressed in black and gold to celebrate the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl victory the night before.
“There’s significant buzz from the Steelers win and quite a few Terrible Towels floating from the crowd,” said Mickey Rowley, deputy secretary for tourism in Pennsylvania.
The annual ritual takes place on Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill in Punxsutawney, a borough of about 6,100 residents some 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club announced the forecast in a short proclamation, in which Phil acknowledged the Steelers’ 27-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
According to German superstition, if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2 — the Christian holiday of Candlemas — winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, legend says, spring will come early.
Since 1887, Phil has seen his shadow 97 times, hasn’t seen it 15 times, and there are no records for nine years, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. In reality, Phil doesn’t see much of anything. The result is actually decided in advance by 14 members of the club’s Inner Circle, who don tuxedos and top hats for the event.
Rowley said the Groundhog Day festivities are Pennsylvania’s largest tourist gathering in the winter. And if Phil’s forecast proves correct, it should bring even more tourists to the state.
“It’s six more weeks of skiing,” Rowley said.
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