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Origins | The Movie | Facts | Year-by-Year
Punxsutawney  Present Weather  |  5-day Forecast
n 1723, the Delaware Indians settled Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania as a campsite halfway between the Allegheny and the Susquehanna Rivers.  The town is 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, at the intersection of Route 36 and Route 119.  The Delawares considered groundhogs honorable ancestors.  According to the original creation beliefs of the Delaware Indians, their forebears began life as animals in "Mother Earth" and emerged centuries later to hunt and live as men.

When German settlers arrived in the 1700s, they brought a tradition known as Candlemas Day, which has an early origin in the pagan celebration of Imbolc.  It came at the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  Superstition held that if the weather was fair, the second half of Winter would be stormy and cold.  For the early Christians in Europe, it was the custom on Candlemas Day for clergy to bless candles and distribute them to the people in the dark of Winter.  A lighted candle was placed in each window of the home.  The day's weather continued to be important.  If the sun came out February 2, halfway between Winter and Spring, it meant six more weeks of wintry weather.

The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College:

According to the old English saying:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

From Scotland:

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There'll be two winters in the year.

From Germany:

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until May.
For as the snow blows on Candlemas Day,
So far will the sun shine before May.

And from America:

If the sun shines on Groundhog Day;
Half the fuel and half the hay.

If the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of Winter.  Germans watched a badger for the shadow.  In Pennsylvania, the groundhog, upon waking from mid-Winter hibernation, was selected as the replacement.

Pennsylvania's official celebration of Groundhog Day began on February 2nd, 1886 with a proclamation in The Punxsutawney Spirit by the newspaper's editor, Clymer Freas: "Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow."  The groundhog was given the name "Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary'' and his hometown thus called the "Weather Capital of the World.''  His debut performance: no shadow - early Spring.

The legendary first trip to Gobbler's Knob was made the following year.

ince the 1993 release of the film Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray as a TV weatherman (who wakes up and it's Groundhog Day over and over again!) and Andie MacDowell as his puzzled producer, attendance at the real event has expanded.  In 1997, there were 35,000 visitors in Punxsutawney, five times the Jefferson County town's 6,700 population.

The Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 1992 were joined by Bill Murray studying for his role in the movie.  Then, Columbia Pictures set out to recreate the Punxsutawney Groundhog Day down to the smallest detail.  There were, however, many changes made.

Columbia Pictures decided to film the movie in a location more accessible to a major metropolitan center.  The highways in and around Punxsutawney were few, so Woodstock, Illinois was chosen as the site.  Unfortunately, Woodstock's landscape doesn't have Pennsylvania's scenic rolling hills.  Nevertheless, adjustments were made for the production.  The actual Gobbler's Knob is a wooded hill with a beautiful view; the Gobbler's Knob in the movie is moved to the town square.  The Punxsutawney Gobbler's Knob was recreated to scale in Woodstock's town square based on detailed notes and videos the crew made on it's visit to Punxsutawney.    [Photo: © Columbia Pictures]

The movie's script was changed to include the elaborate ceremony of the Inner Circle on Groundhog Day.  The original groundhog cast for the movie was considered to be too small.

Some of the store names in Punxsutawney were used in the movie, such as The Smart Shop and Stewart's Drug Store.  Punxsutawney's police cars were also recreated for the movie.  The groundhog-head trash cans and Groundhog Festival flags that line the streets of Punxsutawney were displayed.  Folks traveling to Punxsutawney to see the "Punxsutawney" they saw in the movie wonder why it looks "so different, yet seems so similar."

he groundhog, also known as a woodchuck (Marmota monax), is a member of the squirrel family.  Groundhogs in the wild eat succulent green plants, such as dandelion, clover, and grasses.

According to handlers John Griffiths and Ben Hughes, Phil weighs 15 pounds and thrives on dog food and ice cream in his climate-controlled home at the Punxsutawney Library.

Up on Gobbler's Knob, Phil is placed in a heated burrow underneath a simulated tree stump on stage before being pulled out at 7:25 a.m. to make his prediction.

© Punxsutawney
Chamber of Commerce

The groundhog's seasonal forecasting accuracy is somewhat low.
Phil's Winter prognostications have been correct only 39% of the time.
1887Shadow; first official trip to Gobbler's Knob.
1888Shadow (Six more weeks of Winter!)
1889 no record
1890NO Shadow (early Spring!)
[Birthdate: Charles Correll ("Andy" on radio's Amos & Andy)]
1891 no record
1892 no record
1893 no record
1894 no record
1895 no record
1896 no record
1897 no record
1899 no record
1901Shadow  [Birthdate: Jascha Heifetz, violinist]
1902NO Shadow
1905Shadow  [Birthdate: Ayn Rand, novelist-philosopher]
1906Shadow  [Birthdate: Gale Gordon, actor]
1908Shadow  [Birthdate: Clarence "Buster" Crabbe, Olympic swimmer/actor]
1912Shadow  [Birthdate: Burton Lane, Broadway composer]
1913Shadow at 8:08 AM; first newspaper photo of Groundhog Day by John Frampton.
1914Shadow at 9:34 AM
1915Shadow at 11:45 AM; named Wiley William Woodchuck!
1916Shadow at 9:07 AM; first movie film of Groundhog Day ceremony (17.5mm Birtac).
1918Shadow; 18 degrees below zero.
1919Shadow  [Birthdate: Forrest Tucker, actor]
1921Shadow at 7:17 AM
1922Shadow at 7:11 AM; Groundhog Holiday Dance.
1923Shadow  [Birthdate: Liz Smith, gossip columnist]
1924Shadow at 7:13 AM
1925Shadow at 8:13 AM;   [Birthdate: Elaine Stritch, actress]
1926Shadow at 9:17 AM
1927Shadow at 8:35 AM;   [Birthdate: Stan Getz, jazz saxophonist]
1928Shadow at 10:00 AM; program with Punx'y Rotary Club on KDKA Radio.
1930Shadow at 7:11 AM
1931Shadow at 12:27 PM
1932Shadow at 9:11 AM
1934NO Shadow.
1935Shadow at 9:11 AM
1936Shadow at 10:27 AM
1937Shadow at 9:09 AM; early morning encounter with a skunk!
[Birthdate: Tom Smothers, comedian]
1938Shadow at 9:05 AM; "darkest shadow in history"
(The Spirit, Feb. 2, 1938)
1939Shadow at 9:10 AM
1940Shadow at 9:00 AM
1941Shadow at 4:25 PM
1942Partial Shadow at 7:40 AM; "War clouds have blacked out parts of the shadow."
(The Spirit, Feb. 2, 1942)  [Birthdate: Graham Nash, guitarist, singer]
1943Groundhog did not appear; relied on Quarryville's prediction - NO Shadow
1944Shadow at 9:10 AM
1945Shadow at 9:00 AM
1946Shadow at 7:52 AM
1947Shadow at 7:37 AM; first newspaper photo of Groundhog Club at Gobbler's Knob
[Birthdate: Farrah Fawcett, actress, model]
1948Shadow at 8:46 AM;   [Birthdate: Jessica Savitch, NBC news anchor]
1949Shadow at 7:32 AM;   [Birthdate: Brent Spiner, actor]
1950NO Shadow
1951Shadow at 8:41 AM
1952Shadow at 7:52 AM; on NBC's Today Show on Monday, February 4
1953Shadow at 7:38 AM;   [Birthdate: Penny Pulz, LPGA golfer]
1954Shadow at 8:03 AM;   [Birthdate: Christie Brinkley, Cover Girl model]
1955Shadow at 8:51 AM; 4" of snow on Groundhog Day;
[Birthdate: Kim Zimmer, soap opera actress]
1956Shadow at 8:33 AM
1957Shadow at 7:47 AM
1958Shadow at 8:27 AM;  [Birthdate: Holly Hunter, actress]
1959Shadow at 8:23 AM
1960Shadow at 7:33 AM; forecasts extremely bad weather on the Today show.
1961Shadow at 7:41 AM; 25 below zero.
1962Shadow at 7:29 AM;  [Birthdate: Garth Brooks, singer]
1963Shadow at 7:41 AM
1964Shadow at 7:35 AM
1965Shadow at 7:58 AM
1966Shadow at 7:21 AM
1967Shadow at 7:25 AM
1968Shadow at 7:29 AM
1969Shadow at 7:29 AM
1970NO Shadow
1971Shadow at 7:29 AM; 14 below zero.
1972Shadow at 7:30 AM
1973Shadow at 7:29 AM
1974Shadow at 7:28 AM
1975NO Shadow
1976Shadow at 7:29 AM
1977Shadow at 7:27; in midst of the energy crisis.   [Birthdate: Shakira, singer]
1978Shadow at 7:28 AM
1979Shadow at 7:28 AM
1980Shadow at 7:29 AM
1981Shadow at 7:27 AM
1982Shadow at 7:26 AM; coldest January this Century.
1983NO Shadow; predicted an early Spring after a mild El Niño Winter.
1984Shadow at 7:04 AM
1985Shadow at 7:28 AM
1986NO Shadow;  [Birthdate: Gemma Arterton, actress]
Phil visited President Reagan at the White House in March.
1987Shadow at 7:29 AM;  [Birthdate: Gerard Piqué, soccer player]
1988NO Shadow
1990NO Shadow;  [Birthdate: Julia Fox, actress]
1993Shadow at 7:25 AM; the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray is released.
1994Shadow at 7:28 AM
1995NO Shadow; afternoon guest on the "Oprah Winfrey" TV Show.
1996Shadow at 7:21 AM
1997NO Shadow; 35,000 watched at Gobbler's Knob
1998Shadow at 7:20 AM; predicting six more weeks of a mild El Niño Winter!
1999NO Shadow at 7:23 AM; 37º  rain
2000Shadow at 7:28 AM; 12º overcast skies with flurries
2001Shadow at 7:27 AM; 28º cloudy skies with light snow
2002Shadow at 7:25 AM; 19º mist with a record 38,000 visitors driven to Gobbler's Knob by bus for security.
2003Shadow at 7:27 AM; 30º overcast skies with PA Governor Ed Rendell attending the ceremony.
2004Shadow at 7:27 AM; 17º clear skies with snow on the ground, crowd boos the forecast!
2005Shadow at 7:31 AM; 14º clear skies with a wind chill of 3ºF.
2006Shadow at 7:23 AM; 36º overcast skies with the crowd cheering the Steelers in Super Bowl XL.
2007NO Shadow at 7:28 AM; 26º overcast skies with light snow and mist under a Full Moon.
2008Shadow at 7:27 AM; 28º fog and mist with the crowd booing six more weeks of Winter.
2009Shadow at 7:30 AM; 29º overcast skies as the crowd cheers the Steelers' Super Bowl XLIII victory.
2010Shadow at 7:23 AM; 15º hazy sun and a visit from actor Stephen Tobolowsky (Ned Ryerson).
Animal rights group PETA demands Punxsy Phil be replaced by a robot. LOL!
2011 NO Shadow at 7:25 AM; 34º with rain, snow, and ice covering Gobbler's Knob.
The crowd cheers for Spring and Super Bowl XLV with the Steelers!
2012Shadow at 7:24 AM; 30º overcast skies with PA Governor Tom Corbett attending the ceremony.
2013NO Shadow at 7:28 AM; 8º overcast skies with a Saturday crowd of more than 30,000.
2014Shadow at 7:28 AM; 39º overcast skies with fog. It's Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday.
2015Shadow at 7:23 AM; 34º freezing rain and drizzle.
2016NO Shadow at 7:25 AM; 24º clear skies.
2017Shadow at 7:23 AM; 27º overcast skies with snow flurries.
2018Shadow at 7:20 AM; 9º cloudy skies with -7º Wind Chill.
2019NO Shadow at 7:28 AM; 14º fog & mist with -1º Wind Chill.
2020NO Shadow at 7:26 AM; 30º with light snow falling.
2021Shadow at 7:25 AM; 19º with light snow.
Coronavirus fear prohibits crowds on Gobbler's Knob.
2022Shadow at 7:27 AM; 27º with clear skies.
A loyal crowd of thousands returned to Gobbler's Knob.
2023Shadow at 7:24 AM; 13º with clear skies. PA Governor Josh Shapiro attends.
Thousands of Eagles Super Bowl LVII fans help celebrate Phil's big day at the Knob.

NO Shadow
no record

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