Punxsutawney PhilHoliday Figure / Prognosticator
Born: c. 1887
Birthplace: Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
Best known as: The top-dog groundhog of Groundhog Day
[2016 update: Phil didn't see his shadow and predicts an early spring!] America's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil becomes a celebrity for a day every February 2nd. According to tradition, if a groundhog emerges from his burrow on Groundhog Day and sees his shadow, then winter will last for six more weeks. The city of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania held its first whimsical Groundhog Day observances in the 1880s, and over time began to promote itself as the national center of Groundhog Day festivities. A succession of groundhogs have played the starring role of Punxsutawney Phil, the "official" Groundhog Day mascot and weather forecaster. Phil's Groundhog Day appearance is covered by local and national media each year. Phil's fame got a boost from the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, in which actor Bill Murray played a cynical TV weatherman caught in a time warp in Punxsutawney.
According to local records, Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow on February 2nd about 85% of the time… Like all groundhogs, Phil is a mammal from the order Rodentia (rodents) and the genus Marmota (marmots). Groundhogs are also known as woodchucks… His handlers insist, whimsically, that Punxsutawney Phil is over 100 years old and that he drinks an “elixir of life” each year which adds seven more years to his life. In reality, groundhogs have a typical lifespan of about six years.
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