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Groundhog readies for his day in the sun

By Carolyn E. Price     Feb 1, 2007 in Environment
Tomorrow is Phil's big day in the sun ... or will it be?
Punxsutawny Phil is getting two new handlers tomorrow morning when he lets the world know whether spring will come early (he doesn't see his shadow) or if winter will stay on for six more frozen bloody cold weeks (he sees his shadow). Let's all hope for snow!
Phil's long-time handler Bill Deeley retired last year more than a dozen years on the job. Now, Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle members John Griffiths and Ben Hughes will roust Phil from his stump on Gobbler's Knob.
The pair admit that they are not as assertive with Phil as Deeley was. "It's out of fear on our part," Griffiths said. "We hope that if (Phil) knows we're submissive, he won't bite us. It's an exciting thing to do," Hughes said. "It's a lot of work, but it's exciting to know you're a part of one of the most phenomenal parts of American folklore."
These guys are afraid of Phil? Maybe they should come up to Wiarton in Ontario and see how is down properly with our own Wiarton Willie.
Each February 2, thousands of people arrive in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to celebrate what was once a German superstition. According to a German legend, if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on February 2 - the Christian holiday of Candlemas - winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, the legend says that spring will come early.
Since 1886, Phil has seen his shadow 96 times, has not seen it 14 times, and there are no records for nine years, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The last time Phil failed to see his shadow was in 1999.
Interest in the town's groundhop festivities got a huge boost after "Groundhog Day" was released. Bill Murray starred in the moving, playing a television reporter who covered the event over and over again.
More about Groundhog, Punxsutawney, Phil