Tuesday, February 2, 2016

On This Day in 1887 - The First Annual Groundhog Day is Celebrated

This plaque at Gobbler's Knob, in Punxsutawney, PA, elucidates the lore of
Punxsutawney Phil and Groundhog Day, celebrated every February 2nd
Remember what it was like around this time last year? We were still getting several inches of snow, several times a week, with no end in sight. It started out just like this winter did, with all of that uncharacteristically mild weather for weeks, but then we got clobbered with that first blizzard, followed by another, and another…
I won't mention what mild weather we've had this winter, lest we be cursed with constant, dreadful storms to finish off the "off-season" with a bang. Suffice it to say we've made it through January, generally the coldest month in Provincetown winters, without too much fuss, and if grand prognosticator Punxsutawney Phil doesn't see his shadow today at Gobbler's Knob, then we're out of the woods, so to speak.
Contributed photo/Groundhog Day Inner Circle
No such luck. Checking the forecast, it looks like western Pennsylvania will be sunny all morning long, with thermometers reaching 46 degrees today, and zero chance of rain, so Phil will no doubt see his shadow.
According to groundhog legend and lore, that will mean that America is doomed to six more weeks of winter rather than an early spring. But if this winter continues the way it has been going, I won't mind.
Going out in a sweater instead of an overcoat has been just my cup of tea this season, and although this warm weather is actually terrible for the planet, it's been good for my spirits, and I figure that even if it starts snowing tonight and doesn't stop until April, we'll still break even compared to last winter. As of now, we're scheduled for at least another 9 or 10 days of warm weather before temperatures dip.
By the way, Punxsutawney Phil's winter weather predictions in the last decade or two have been correct just under half of the time, with a score of 13 to 15. Learn a few other groundhog facts by watching just a few moments of useless Groundhog Day trivia, with its very dramatic musical score, produced by USA Today.
Just like we do for certain Provincetown events, Punxsutawney's population of 5,500 residents "look forward" with mixed emotions to the 10,000 to 12,000 visitors that flock to their town for this annual celebration, with more arriving whenever Groundhog Day falls on the weekend. A few other cities have now come up with characters of their own to forecast predictions for the end of winter, with events growing year by year.
People love any excuse to come to PTown to celebrate, even in the dead of winter, as evidenced by the great success of our First Light celebration over New Years. What sort of mascot might Provincetown come up with to expand a bit on the few parties here that already celebrate this groundhog's "holiday?"
Regardless of the kind of weather we have over these next six weeks, I think I can count on at least one positive thing, for sure… I won't ever have to look up how to spell Punxsutawney again. By George, I think I've got it!