This Friday, February 2, is Groundhog Day. At 7:25 a.m., Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his burrow and make his annual weather prediction. According to legend, if Phil sees his shadow, winter will continue for six more weeks. If he does not see his shadow, an early spring is coming.
Here are a few fun facts about Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil:
• Groundhog Day has been celebrated since the 1800s.
• Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is the home of Punxsutawney Phil.
• Crowds as large as 40,000 attend the annual Groundhog Day celebration held in Punxsutawney.
• Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip.
• This year will be Punxsutawney Phil’s 132nd prediction. Phil is said to get his longevity from taking a drink of the “elixir of life” every summer at the Groundhog Picnic. The secret recipe magically gives him seven more years of life.
• According to records from the Stormfax Almanac, Phil has made 103 predictions of more winter and 18 predictions of an early spring. There are nine years without any records. Phil’s accuracy is fairly low. His prognostications have been correct only about 39 percent of the time.
Although it would probably be more accurate to predict the weather with a flip of a coin, the tradition of Groundhog Day is fun. If you’re looking for some Groundhog Day entertainment, the Discovery Place family of museums has several Groundhog Day themed programs for children. Discovery Place Kids in Huntersville will offer a Groundhog Day story time program at 11:15 on February 2 and Discovery Place Nature in Charlotte will present a Groundhog Puppets program at 12:30 p.m. on February 3. More information about the programs can be found at www.discoveryplace.org.
The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club website (www.groundhog.org) has lots of fun information about groundhogs, Punxsutawney Phil and the Groundhog Day celebration. The website also offers Groundhog Day themed activity ideas and downloads for children of all ages. To see Punxsutawney Phil make his prediction on February 2, watch the live webcast at visitpa.com/groundhog-day-live-stream.
There are also lots of children’s books about Groundhog Day that can be found at your local library. Here are a few good titles to check out:
• Gretchen Groundhog, It’s Your Day! by Abby Levine
• Groundhog Day! by Gail Gibbons
• The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun by Wendie C. Old
• Groundhog Day by Betsy Lewin
• Substitute Groundhog by Pat Miller
Personally, I’m hoping Phil doesn’t see his shadow. I’m ready for spring!