There are few winter days after the start of the New Year that are exciting, but in the midst of the cold, gray winter comes a ray of hope in the form of Groundhog Day! As a native Pennsylvanian, I have been tracking the groundhog for as long as I can remember. Every year we would make paper groundhogs and hope that he didn’t see his shadow. For those of you that didn’t grow up following the exploits of a rodent, Groundhog Day takes place every February 2nd, and legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow then it’s six more weeks of winter, but if he doesn’t see his shadow, spring is right around the corner. And although I’ve heard of there being other animals in other states (apparently even Raleigh has a groundhog it watches named Sir Walter Wally), the true forecaster to me will always be Punxsutawney Phil of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
There are some nonbelievers out there who doubt the prognosticating prowess of the groundhog. Holt McPherson was editor of the High Point Enterprise from 1930-1937 and 1952-1972. In the Holt McPherson Collection, we have source materials that he used for the editorials he wrote. Below is a slanderous article he found written for the magazine People Today, which surmises that the groundhog is not the weatherman he’s cracked up to be.
Regardless of the haters, on February 2nd the first thing I will do when I get out of bed will be to check if Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Gobbler’s Knob. Afterwards I will check if Sir Walter Wally saw his shadow for a local forecast, and then of course put on one of my favorite movies: Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray.