Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v09n02)
Howling at the Moon by Susan Smith
posted: Jan. 20, 2012
It's almost here. It's huge. It's been around for years. Hotels have rolled out their red carpet and are filled. Committees have formed and volunteers are in place. People travel from around the world to be involved in all the celebrations. There are party tents and entertainers. The media makes a big deal about it. People dress formally and informally. There are big breakfasts and town squares are made over for the festivity. Everyone waits on pins and needles for the outcome and makes bets. Will the groundhog see his shadow? Groundhog Day is February 2nd. Fooled you! You thought I was talking about the Super Bowl didn't you? Heck, the Super Bowl has only been around 46 years but Groundhog Day has been here for 126. Quarterbacks come and go but Punxsutawney Phils seem to be the same through the ages. Punxsutawney Phil is the groundhog from Gobbler's Knob at Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Here's a little history and answers to frequently asked questions from the official website www.groundhog.org :
How many "Phils" have there been over the years? There has only been one Punxsutawney Phil. He has been making predictions for over 125 years!
Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking the "elixir of life," a secret recipe. Phil takes one sip every summer at the Groundhog Picnic and it magically gives him seven more years of life.
On February 2, Phil comes out of his burrow on Gobbler's Knob - in front of thousands of followers from all over the world - to predict the weather for the rest of winter.
According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.
No! Phil's forecasts are not made in advance by the Inner Circle. After Phil emerges from his burrow on February 2, he speaks to the Groundhog Club president in "Groundhogese" (a language only understood by the current president of the Inner Circle). His proclamation is then translated for the world.
The celebration of Groundhog Day began with Pennsylvania's earliest German settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states, "For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May..."
Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800s. The first official trek to Gobbler's Knob was made on February 2, 1887.
So the story goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br'er Groundhog.
So after reading recently in the Indy Star about all the Super Bowl parties, price of tickets (some around $1,000) and entertainers performing, I can't help but feel it's all overrated after visiting the Groundhog Day website. $30.00 buys a ticket to the Groundhog Ball February 1st, 2012, featuring Rudy and the Professionals at the Punxsutawney Country Club, N. Main St. Admission for this formal is by pre-sold tickets only. And what could be more fun than breakfast with Phil? Purchase tickets in advance; $10 adult & $7.50 children. All the fun starts January 28th through February 4th with February 2nd being the big day with the official prediction at daybreak (approximately 7:25 a.m.). No alcoholic beverages or illegal substances are permitted on the premises. Gates open at 3:00 a.m. Dressing for the weather is advised. We here at Super Bowl Central might be advised to dress for the weather as well but something tells me that since alcohol is a big part of Super Bowl we won't feel the cold. It's hard to compare the two events. One is frivolous folklore and the other is over-the-top indulgence. The cost of Super Bowl tickets, hotels and parking is hard to imagine - $400 for game day parking. . . .really? Oh my. We, as a host city, have really thrown ourselves into it and what a time it has been. It's been nice to have a new focus. Broad Ripple is our party center. This will be a bigger party - one on steroids. We are going to have one big hangover. We may not care if the groundhog sees his shadow because we may need another six weeks of winter just so we can sleep it off.
Susan Smith is a life-long area resident and is the owner of City Dogs Grocery located at 52nd and College. Send your pet related questions/comments to susan@BroadRippleGazette.com