The Antlers American

Punxsy Phil makes his prediction: six more weeks of winter

- By Matthew Triponey The Punxsutawn­ey Spirit

PUNXSUTAWN­EY — Those who braved the cold of a February morning at Gobbler’s Knob hoping for a promise of relief from the icy chill ultimately walked away disappoint­ed Thursday, when Punxsutawn­ey Phil — Seer of Seers, Prognostic­ator of Prognostic­ators — proclaimed that six more weeks of winter awaited his adoring public. His chosen scroll read: “I see the morning has brought the finest people. I see their bravery and spirit. The time has come, I can feel it; the excitement, I can hear it. I see the folks with gray in their hair, and I see the kids all young and scrawny, their eyes and cheeks aglow from the cold, clean air of sweet Punxsutawn­ey. I see that everyone knows their part, and I am merely the sage. But above all else I see a shadow on my stage. And so no matter how you measure, it’s six more weeks of winter weather.” As with every Groundhog Day, people crowded Gobbler’s Knob well before the break of dawn. Members of the Groundhog Club Inner Circle did their best to keep the crowd warm and entertaine­d for hours prior to the 7:30 a.m. prognostic­ation. The finalists from Wednesday’s Gobbler’s Knob Got Talent competitio­n — opera singer Payton Tanner of Vera Beach, Florida, and Rockton duo Denny and Sue Shaffner with their Phil-themed take on the old standard “The Wellerman” — performed one last time. Tanner was declared the winner of the $500 grand prize, and was invited back to the stage later for the singing of the national anthem. Also helping with the entertainm­ent were the Philette dancers from the Punxsutawn­ey Area High School, Miss Pennsylvan­ia Alysa Bainbridge and Miss Virginia Victoria Chuah. Another special guest was Josh Shapiro, making one of his first public appearance­s after taking office as Pennsylvan­ia’s governor a few short weeks ago. He brought his family to see the sights as well. “I’m thrilled to be here and grateful that the Inner Circle included me,” he said. “How cool are these guys from the Inner Circle, and how amazing is Punxsutawn­ey, Pennsylvan­ia?” “Phil may be the draw, but you’re the reason I’m here, because you’re the very best of Pennsylvan­ia,” he told the crowd. “You’re tough, you’re resilient, and you know how to have a good time.” He encouraged those in attendance to start thinking about making the trek again next year — and those watching from the warmth of their homes to join the festivitie­s in person next time. Following Phil’s prognostic­ation, his Phaithful Phollowers dispersed from Gobbler’s Knob at the dawn of a crisp, sunny winter day.

It was still very, very cold.

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