Punxsutawney Phil is a famous groundhog who lives in Pennsylvania. Every year, he forecasts the weather based on if he sees his shadow on Feb. 2.
For most kids and parents on Groundhog Day, it’s school and business as usual. But there’s at least one place in the United States where Feb. 2 is such a big holiday that kids get the day off. That’s in Punxsutawney, Pa.
The city’s groundhog, Phil, has become so famous that the town gets hundreds of tourists. The town holds a dance, plays and more special events.
The American celebration goes back to German settlers who watched animals for signs of spring. In Punxsutawney, it goes back to the late 1800s.
Nowadays, the whole town is involved. Kids volunteer to help at all the events that bring in tourists. On Groundhog Day, tourists and townspeople start as early as 2 a.m. to make the trip to Gobbler’s Knob, where Phil lives.
Tradition says if Phil sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter and he returns to his hole. If it is a cloudy day and he doesn’t see his shadow, it means spring is approaching and he stays above ground.
Phil is taken care of year-round by the people of this town and a special group called the Groundhog Club. The club’s Inner Circle is responsible for planning the Feb. 2 celebration in Punxsutawney and taking care of Phil. You can recognize the Inner Circle on Groundhog Day — they’re the guys in the tuxedos and top hats.
On his day, Phil gets an extra-special treat: a groundhog sundae. It’s made of groundhog-shaped ginger cookies with vanilla ice cream to symbolize snow. If Phil sees his shadow, he’ll have chocolate sauce on the ice cream.