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  • Interview with Punxsutawny, Pennsylvania Students

    Mr. Murray's 7th Grade Students
    Dolphin Senior Public School
    Mississauga, Ontario
    rodmurr@astral.magic.ca

    We wanted to know some information about Punxsutawny Phil. So we wrote to some Junior high schools and asked them the following questions. Thanks to Mrs. Bridget States and the SSO (Students Serving Others) at Punxsutawny Junior High School for their reply and the souvenirs that they sent us!

    Dear Students of Punxsutawney Junior High School:

    Q. How do people in your town celebrate Groundhog Day?

    A. Things begin to really happen around here about a week before the event. There is a schedule of events that include dances, parties, and luncheons to get ready for the "big" day.

    On the day before, the town really gets busy. All the stores have big sales; the Chamber of Commerce is busy selling souvenirs of everything including mugs, shirts, banners, bumper stickers, stuffed groundhogs, etc. Everything displaying the groundhog on it, of course.

    The night before, the town holds the annual Groundhog Banquet where the local celebrities as well as Punxsy Phil, the live mascot, attends. The man and woman of the year is named for contributing the most to the town. Also former residents who carry on the traditions of Groundhog Day in their new communities are named Groundhog Ambassadors.

    The 2nd of February brings news services from all over the state as well as calls from as far away as England. "Ham" radio operators relay the prediction all over the world as well as calls from other news services to our local radio station. People travel to the "Knob" (short for Gobbler's Knob, home of THE GROUNDHOG) in buses from different locations around town. There are well over 10,000 visitors to the knob for this event yearly.

    Q. Do you know how many times that Punxsutawney Phil has been right or wrong about his prediction?

    A. I'm not sure about the accuracy of Phil's predictions; this is not a subject discussed but I'm sure if you ask any of the Inner Circle, they would say he is seldom wrong. After the "big day", Phil is returned to his regular home in the Groundhog Zoo, beside the Memorial Library.

    Q. How do the students in your school celebrate Groundhog Day?

    A. At school, the students get the day off and the teachers use the day for teacher's in-service meetings or we are excused in the morning of Groundhog Day to attend the ceremony then go to school after. This year the day is on Sunday so we are all free to go if we want.

    Q. How do you know if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not?

    A. The crowd begins to arrive at about 4AM; they are greeted and entertained by the local radio station and the Groundhog "Inner Circle" (a group of men from town who promote the event). The prediction comes at sunrise, which happens at about 7AM. The official handler of Phil knocks on the door to his burrow and he appears. (actually, I believe they pull him out). If the groundhog sees his shadow that means we will have six more weeks of winter. With all the lights from the news media, how could he not? However, occasionally, he fails to see the shadow so we are to have an early spring.

    Q. Do you call Groundhog Day, Groundhog Day, or do you have a different name for Groundhog Day?

    A. We do call February 2nd "Groundhog Day".