I’ll never forget walking into my first-grade classroom on a cool February morning, only for my teacher to gather us all into a circle on the floor rug. The occasion? Groundhog Day.
If you are unfamiliar with Groundhog Day, it is a tradition rooted deep in folklore featuring a simple groundhog (affectionately named Punxsutawney Phil). If Phil saw his shadow, legend had it that there would be a “Second Winter” or six more weeks of bad weather. If Phil didn’t see his shadow? It marked the start of spring!
I just had to know more about Groundhog Day this year, so I took the opportunity to reach out to a member of Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Dan McGinley for more details about the event.
Her Campus (HC): To start off, do you work for the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club? How long? (If not, what is your relation to them?)
Dan “Moonshine” McGinley (DM): Well, I don't work for the Groundhog Club—it isn't my job or career. I am a member of the Groundhog Club. It is a social organization, where we all volunteer. Each of us have jobs outside of the club but donate our time to make sure Groundhog Day is done properly.
HC: What do you think makes the Groundhog Day tradition so special? What do you like about it?
DM: What makes Groundhog Day special is its uniqueness. We have been doing something that no one else does for over 134 years, and no one does it better. It has become a "Bucket List" event for so many.
HC: On Groundhog Day itself, what should people expect? Will it be like years past?
DM: This year's Groundhog Day will definitely not look like years past. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gobbler's Knob (where we host Punxsutawney Phil's annual prediction) is closed off to the public. Normally tens of thousands of people come to witness the event. This year, we have put together a Groundhog Day special to air before Phil's Prognostication (which will start at 6:30 a.m. on Groundhog.org). We will have the ceremony live but without the fans.
HC: Other than the link through the website, is there any other way to watch Punxsutawney Phil this year?
DM: Yes. It will be on Phil's Facebook and YouTube.
HC: What was the most challenging part of making Groundhog Day virtual this year?
DM: The most difficult part of having Groundhog Day virtually this year is that we haven't been able to meet and talk with the fans who come to town each year. We love having people visit, and this year we've had to do it alone.
HC: How long has the Club been planning the virtual event?
DM: We decided sometime in November that a virtual event was the way to go because we wanted to wait and see if anything would change.
HC: Is there anything else that people should know about tuning in?
DM: The recorded portion will end around 7:15 and then we will be live for Phil's prediction.
HC: How can people still support the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club?
DM: Support for the Groundhog Club comes in many forms. Visiting Punxsutawney is the best way, but you can also become a member of the club by going to Groundhog.org.
HC: Finally, do you think Phil will see his shadow?
DM: Yes, I believe in the Shadow every year.
I know that the first-grader in me will certainly be waking up to watch the event, and hopefully catch the start of spring!