02022020 — Punxsutawney Phil's Report from Gobbler's Knob

Photo by Alan Freed of The Spirit
By Zak Lantz, Of The Spirit

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Perhaps Mother Nature was casting her vote while faithful followers of Punxsutawney Phil flocked to Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney for the 2020 prognostication, as she was covering the town in a blanket of snow. But a little bit of snow sure didn’t keep the crowds away, as a large group gathered to hear the only opinion that mattered Sunday morning — would Phil cast his ballot for an early spring or for winter six weeks more?

This year, as Phil reflected upon his annual forecast with a mirrored date — 02022020 — in mind, he couldn’t have seen things more clearly. There was no reflection — or shadow — to see, and Phil called for an early spring.

From the sound of the reaction, many of those gathered at The Knob were hoping for just that forecast — and while “early spring” is a much less common call for Phil than six more weeks of winter, this was the second consecutive year that the Prognosticator of Prognosticators excited those who were thinking warm thoughts.

Throughout the evening, Dave “Thunder Conductor” Gigliotti, Dan “Moonshine” McGinley and the Punxsy Phil dancers did their part to keep those who arrived early warm with some entertainment and plenty of dancing, with the help of a number of special guests as well.

Though the snow was falling throughout the night and into the morning, the weather was actually quite season-able — some might say reasonable — as temperatures were in the high 20s and low 30s for those awaiting Phil.

Clean Shave got the official proceedings underway right around 6:30 a.m. with its version of the National Anthem, which was followed by the wake-up call of all wake-up calls — the annual Groundhog Day fireworks show. After that, the singing and dancing ensued as the crowd continued to pour into Gobbler’s Knob.

Then, at 7:15 a.m., as is the custom, the top-hat-clad members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle made their way through a part in the crowd as they approached the stage to summon Phil from his stump. Inner Circle vice president and “Fair Weatherman” Jeff Lundy welcomed what he proclaimed “the largest crowd in the history of Groundhog Day” and told them that it was time to get serious about the weather. Lundy then welcomed the other Inner Circle members and gave them an opportunity to introduce themselves.

Inner Circle President Bill Deeley then informed the crowd that the cane he held in his hand has been passed down from club president to club president and allows him to speak to Phil in Groundhogese. Then, he invited the crowd to join him in rousing Phil from his slumber. At 7:24 a.m., Phil emerged from the famous stump to the loud cheers of an excited following.

After Phil directed Deeley to the proper scroll, all eyes — and ears — turned to Lundy, who proclaimed, on behalf of Phil: “It’s a Phil-phantastic day in these beautiful woods; thousands and thousands in the Knob neighborhood. You faithful followers are the best, it’s true; and who wouldn’t want neighbors just like you. Now, my forecast on a day that’s a palindrome will cause some to cheer and some to moan. So do I hope you think it’s favorly, for there is no shadow of me; early spring it will be!”