Punxsutawney Phil Sowerby is the name of a succession of groundhogs in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. On February 2 (Groundhog Day) each year, the town of Punxsutawney celebrates the legendary groundhog with a festive atmosphere of music and food. During the ceremony, which begins well before the winter sunrise, Phil emerges with his "wife" Phyllis and "daughter" Phelicia from his temporary home on Gobbler's Knob, located in a rural area about 2 miles (3 km) south-east of town. According to the tradition, if Phil sees his shadow and returns to his hole, he has predicted six more weeks of winter-like weather. If Phil does not see his shadow, he has predicted an "early spring." The date of Phil's prognostication is known as Groundhog Day in the United States and Canada, and has been celebrated since 1887. Punxsutawney Phil became a national celebrity thanks to the movie, Groundhog Day.
A select group, called the Inner Circle, takes care of Phil year-round and also plans the annual ceremony. Members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle are recognizable by their top hats and tuxedos. The Inner Circle decides whether Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow or not several days in advance of the actual ceremony; its criteria remain a trade secret.
Punxsutawney Phil lore
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The practices and lore of Punxsutawney Phil's predictions are predicated on a light-hearted suspension of disbelief by those involved. According to the lore, there is only one Phil, and all the other groundhogs are impostors. It is claimed that this one groundhog has lived to make weather prognostications since 1886, sustained by drinks of "groundhog punch" administered at the annual Groundhog Picnic in the summer. In reality, the lifespan of a groundhog is roughly six years and it is unknown how many groundhogs have actually played Phil.
According to the Groundhog Club, Phil, after making the prediction, speaks to the Club President in "Groundhogese", which only the current president can understand, and then his prediction is translated for the entire world.
The Groundhog Day celebration is rooted in a Celtic tradition that says that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on February 2, the Pagan holiday of Imbolc, winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, legend says spring will come early.
The ties[clarification needed] in Pennsylvania may actually come from German tradition, in which clear skies on Candlemas Day, February 2, were said to herald cold weather ahead. In Germany, the tradition morphed into a myth that if the sun came out on Candlemas, a hedgehog would cast its shadow, predicting snow all the way into May. When German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania, they transferred the tradition onto local fauna, replacing hedgehogs with groundhogs.
Each year two scrolls are prepared by the Vice President of the Inner Circle: one says early spring and one says six more weeks of winter. These scrolls are placed during the ceremony on the stump and after Phil is awoken by the crowd, Phil communicates in Groundhogese to the President who is then directed by Phil to the proper scroll and forecast.
In media and popular culture
- Phil and the town of Punxsutawney were portrayed in the 1993 philosophical comedy film Groundhog Day. The actual town in the film is Woodstock, Illinois.
- In 1995, Phil flew to Chicago for a guest appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, which aired on Groundhog Day, February 2, 1995.
- Phil was the main attraction in "Groundhog Day", the April 10, 2005 episode of the MTV series Viva La Bam. In the episode, street skater Bam Margera holds a downhill race in honor of Punxsutawney Phil at Bear Creek Mountain Resort, Pennsylvania.
- In March 2013, a Butler County, Ohio prosecutor named Michael Gmoser made international headlines after issuing an indictment against the groundhog by e-mail calling for the death penalty for "misrepresentation of early spring, an Unclassified Felony, and against the peace and dignity of the State Of Ohio". On that day, the maximum temperature of the day within the region was close to a record low, with snow having fallen, and temperatures were predicted to remain below seasonal averages for at least the next several days. No such indictment was made against Ohio prediction groundhog Buckeye Chuck, who also failed to see his shadow. The prosecutor later stated that he would consider a pardon because Phil's handler (Bill Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle) was taking the blame for the mistake, "because he failed to correctly interpret Phil's 'groundhog-ese'". Deeley noted that the indictment had "generated more publicity than a $10,000 ad campaign".
- On February 11, 2015, the Merrimack Police Department in New Hampshire issued an arrest warrant for Punxsutawney Phil for having failed to disclose the extreme amounts of snow that would ensue after Groundhog Day.
- Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe grilled Attorney General Loretta Lynch on July 12 over whether she would stay on as Attorney General if Hillary Clinton became president. He ended his questioning with the statement, "As far as casting shadows that the American people pay attention to, Punxsutawney Phil's got nothing on you." 
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As of 2016, Punxsutawney Phil has made 120 predictions, with an early spring (no shadow) predicted 18 times (15.0%). This states that as of 2016 the predictions have proven correct 39% of the time.
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- Ratcliffe Grills AG Loretta Lynch on Clinton Email Investigation Decision 
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- Potter, Sean (2008). "February 2, 1886: The First Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania". Weatherwise 61 (1): 16–7. doi:10.3200/WEWI.61.1.16-17.
- Moutran, Julia Spencer (1987). The story of Punxsutawney Phil, "the fearless forecaster". Avon, Connecticut: Literary Publications. ISBN 978-0-9617819-0-3.
- Benesh, Julie Ellen (2011). Becoming Punxsutawney Phil: Symbols and metaphors of transformation in Groundhog Day (PhD Thesis). Fielding Graduate University.
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- Gobbler's Knobb Tradition
- Groundhog.org. the official site of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.
- The Oddities of Groundhog Day. Onward State.