Celebrate Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney

Celebrate Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney
My brother-in-law’s favorite holiday is Groundhog Day. I’m not sure what places it over the typical favorites of Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter. But I’ve heard his Groundhog Day parties are legendary. He and his wife visited Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to experience Groundhog Day at its source a couple years ago.

I asked them for a rundown of what people should know about visiting Punxsutawney to see Phil make his annual prediction on Feb. 2 at Gobbler’s Knob. Let’s start with some fun facts about Phil and the event.

Your guide to Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania Carltonaut's Travel Tips

Fun Facts About Punxsutawney Phil and Groundhog Day

  • There is and always has ever been only one Punxsutawney Phil. He is given a special Elixir of Life every September at the annual Phil Phest BBQ which is the reason for his unnaturally long life.
  • The purpose of the members of the Inner Circle is to protect and propagate the legend of Punxsutawney Phil and act as ambassadors for him.
  • Phil’s weather prediction is always correct. However, sometimes the President of the Inner Circle, whom he talks to, misunderstands what he says. 😉
  • Phil’s full name: Punxsutawney Phil, the Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.
  • All members of the Inner Circle have specific jobs. There are only two who are Phil’s handlers. They are the only ones who have direct contact with him and are his caretakers. They manage everything, from making sure he gets fed every day to finding him a new wife when each Phyllis dies.
  • Groundhog Day, the movie, was filmed in Woodstock, Illinois, not Punxsutawney. Gobbler’s Knob is not located in the middle of town as depicted in the film. Plus, the festivities start much earlier (in the middle of the night) than depicted.
Baby announcement at Groundhog Day celebrations in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania Carltonaut's Travel Tips

Groundhog Day Events in Punxsutawney

Plan to arrive on Jan. 31st. Most activities and festivities are held Feb. 1st. The early arrival gives you time to visit the souvenir shops and familiarize yourself with where things are. Be sure and pick up a Groundhog Day events booklet so you don’t miss any of the fun.

Groundhog Day is the most fun when you are part of everything. Barclay Square is the center of the festivities. There’s an activity tent, which includes a comedian, ventriloquist, and corn hole tournament (have to sign up early). You can also sign up (and pay) for the food walking tour, where you visit local businesses that provide you with a small Groundhog, German, or Punxsutawney related food item.

Some of the food items included sauerkraut and kielbasa, German apple crisp, Groundhog cookies, Groundhog shaped mini sandwiches, and chips and dips from the local canning company. They also offer walking tours around the downtown area to see a few of the 30+ Phantastic Phil statues.

NOTE: While planning your trip, visit the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club website and sign up to be an official member of the Groundhog Club. There’s a small membership fee, but it gives you entrance to the members-only events like the Meet Phil reception, and banquet dinner (which has an additional fee).

Enjoy Groundhog Day festivities at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania Carltonaut's Travel Tips

Gobbler’s Knob on Feb. 2

The festivities up at Gobbler’s Knob start at 3 am. So between the festivities in town on the 1st, to the 3 a.m. party on the second, don’t expect to get too much sleep. They only got 1½ hours of sleep.

Gobbler’s Knob is 1.3 miles outside of town. While they do offer a shuttle bus from multiple locations throughout town to the Knob, make the trek – it’s part of the fun! Just remember, it’s early February in Pennsylvania, so you’ll want to dress warmly.

The party at Gobbler’s Knob is emceed by members of the Inner Circle. It’s a constant party of music and special guest artists. There is always something going on on the stage. They have concessions for sale – hot chocolate, donuts, hot dogs, etc. – and bathrooms (very important after that cup of hot chocolate). Just before it starts getting the light they have a fireworks show. The actual waking up of Phil and his prognostication takes place around 7 a.m. Prior to Phil’s prognostication, the members of the Inner Circle make their procession through the crowd up to the stage.

Many of the activities are much more low-key on Feb. 2, after the festivities at Gobbler’s Knob. But you can stop by the community center for the craft fair and catch a free showing of the Groundhog Day movie.

Walking tour to see Phantastic Phil statues around Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania Carltonaut's Travel Tips

Summary

If you want to be part of a party where you stand for hours on a winter night in the cold, go to Groundhog Day, not New Year’s Eve in New York. Take it from someone who has done both. Brian and his wife Kendalee will never go back to Times Square for New Year’s Eve, but Groundhog Day is definitely on the to-do list again.

And on a quick note, it’s Groundhog Day, NOT Groundhogs Day. It’s not plural. Haha!

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