“Groundhog Town”: A Small Borough’s Rude Awakening

[gentle theme music]He’s gonna love this.[phone clicking] [people chattering]Okay.All right, guys, let’s do this.[people chattering]This Groundhog Day is gonna be a shitty year, he says.Like last year was a lot of fun.[Interviewer] What’s the, sort of,feeling in the air like? Chaos.It’s absolutely insane.You can’t, I mean, you can’t even drive through town,there’s so many people

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[gentle theme music]

He’s gonna love this.

[phone clicking] [people chattering]


All right, guys, let’s do this.

[people chattering]

This Groundhog Day is gonna be a shitty year, he says.

Like last year was a lot of fun.

[Interviewer] What’s the, sort of,

feeling in the air like? Chaos.

It’s absolutely insane.

You can’t, I mean, you can’t even drive through town,

there’s so many people walking through town.

Last year, I had people from Guatemala that came.

We had people from Australia, I mean,

people come from all over the world to little Punxsutawney.

So it’s really crazy.

[Interviewer] Why do you think they’re coming?

I honestly have no idea. [laughs]

I don’t know, ’cause I wouldn’t. [laughing]

Sorry, I really have no idea.

[Star Wars theme song] [inspirational music]

[people chattering] [gentle quiet music]

So do I hope you think it’s neighborly

for there is no shadow of me, Spring will be early,

it’s a certainty! [crown cheering]

[crowd cheering] [gentle quiet music]

[creaking sign]

[Clerk] Thank you. [phone ringing]

Put regulars in, make a popper.


Hi Kelly.

Absolutely not, just take it.

I’m not taking your money, get out, get out,

get, go, goodbye.

[customer mutters] Goodbye.

Thank you. See ya.

Oh, good luck. See ya.

[Customer] Bye.

Born and raised here.

Yes, and I will probably die here because I love it so much,

I will never move.

I go away and I come back.

I go on vacation once a week, once a year, I mean,

and I go to the beach, always, ’cause I love the beach.

It’s the only thing Punxsey’s missing is the beach,

the ocean, but I can deal with it.

And when I go away and I come back

and I see the sign that says, 2src miles Punxsutawney,

I just get so excited and happy to be back home.

One sausage, one bacon hot pack.

Just put regulars in.

[people chattering] Damascus.

[Interviewer] How do you feel about the future?


As long as we have Phil, there’s nothing to worry about.

And Phil’s gonna be around forever, so we’re good.

In Punxsutawney anyways, we have our own little world here,

so we’re good.

[dramatic organ music]

[bells ringing]

Good morning, and welcome to church this morning

as we gather as the body of Christ

for worship this last Sunday in January.

I just wanna take a minute and remind you

that wherever we have gathered,

in our living rooms or our kitchen tables

or around our smart phones and computers,

that we are gathered in secret’s face,

as the body of Christ, to worship God together this morning.

Will you pray with me?

Holy and ineffable God,

you are the creator of the world

and everything and everyone in it.

And so this morning, we come before you

to praise you, to glorify you,

and we rejoice in the wonders of your creation

and in all the ways you provide for us and sustain us.

We ask that in our worship this morning,

[voice fades] you might open our hearts and our minds to– [voice fades]

[gentle peaceful music]

[buzzing tool]

I shoulda started counting the groundhogs

back in the day when I started ’em.

It has to be in the thousands, for sure.

I keep threatening to blindfold myself

and make one and see, [laughs] how close I can come.

I see them in my sleep during Groundhog Day.

They’re a groundhog with a top hat on.

They all look related, but they’re a little bit different

’cause they’re made one at a time, you know.

Not punched out by a machine, I’m the machine.

And I’m getting old and tired. [laughs]

But somebody else will take over when I’m gone, you know.

[traffic humming]

I thought you were just making a film

out of all these things.

‘Cause I walk past it everyday,

I don’t think about that, you know?

And everybody, you don’t know how many people

I’ve taken pictures of in front of this statue.

‘Cause you walk past, people are like,

Hey, could you take this picture, you know, Hey, sure.

[chuckles] Yeah.

You know, I mean,

there’s a lot of changes in Punxsey,

since I came here, yes, yes, lots.

Oh, I seen the Barry A. Wilson become an apartment building.

Hotel burnt down.

The panel went under.

But you kind of like get used to it, you know,

within like a couple months, you’re like,

Okay, this is how it is, so this is what it has to be,

you know?

That’s just how it is. [laughs]

[traffic humming]

Hey, welcome to the Punxsutawney area coal memorial.

Shall I say that again?

Welcome to the Punxsutawney area coal memorial. [laughs]

I think the future for energy is going to be in solar.

My prediction. [laughs]

If the sun would ever shine. [laughs]

What Groundhog Day means to me is hope for the future

because we’re predicting, you know,

six more weeks of winter,

but it’s that positive attitude that,

when you’re in the midst of this snow,

spring is going to come. [laughs]

Hey everybody, welcome.

Thank you for coming to the crowning

of the 2src21 Mr. and Miss Groundhog.

[people chattering] [gentle piano music]

[Child] And they say they have this, like,

special potion for Phil

that keeps him seven more years alive,

and they say he’s like 14src years old.

[Speaker] Oh, hang on guys, hang on.

Ladies and gentlemen, Punxsutawney Phil!

[crowd cheering] [applauding]

And my uncle was in the inner circle

and so was my grandfather, and when my grandfather died,

we went up on stage.

See, I’m used to watching other people up there,

but then I was the person being watched up there.

They held him right beside me and I was standing right there

so I could see him really well ’cause I was used to,

like, trying to see him at Aguta,

and right there, I could see him perfectly fine.

Yeah, it was really cool.

I mean, I just feel like it’s gonna be so cool

’cause I feel like Punxsey is gonna get so much bigger

and more popular.

I guess because right now I feel like it’s still,

like, rising, and I feel like when it’s at the top,

it’s gonna be so, like, we’ll always have people here,

which will be nice.


[rattling gears] [gentle dramatic music]

[pattering coal] [ringing bell]

[gentle dramatic music] [rattling train]

[Speaker] When I got into the business,

there were dozens and dozens of coal operators around.

I think I’m the only one that’s left.

The economy of Punxsutawney has pretty much

followed the coal industry and it’s not what it was.

It’s a shadow of its once self.

[machinery rumbling]

[creaking footsteps]

[Speaker] Whoa.

Now he moved [mutters] number five.

As far as that goes,

I never really had much to do with groundhogs.

We shoot ’em. [laughs]

That’s a bad thing to say too.

Not Phil, but we used to hunt ’em, the wild ones. [chuckles]

I just never got into it.

[wind hissing]

I got crushed at work.

2,2srcsrc pound steel ball crushed me,

shattered my back, broke my leg off,

broke about everything you can think of

and went back to work for about three years

and I can’t take the cement.

And here, I can quit when I’m tired,

and there, I couldn’t so.

The doctors would always say it was time to get out, so,

I gave it up and went back to just doing something to enjoy.

That’s the fun of it.

[wind hissing]

Live life for what you wanna do today.

‘Cause there may not be tomorrow.

That’s the truth of it.




Whoa. Whoa.


[wings flutter]

[gun blasts]

Fetch it now.

[gentle slow music]

[Speaker] Phil, and Phyllis, when they are hibernating,

when a groundhog’s hibernating,

you would honestly think it was dead.

Their body temperature goes down to basically being cold,

and their heart rate goes down to, you know,

honestly, somewhere between three and five beats per minute.

So there’s been times when I’ll go in and I’ll say,

Oh man, I hope we don’t have a problem here,

and I put my hand down and just lay it on Phil or Phyllis

and eventually you feel a breath,

but it’s literally that slow.

They hibernate really, really deeply.

[gentle quiet music]

[traffic humming]

[pattering footsteps] [traffic humming]

We have a camp just in Sigal, which is close to here,

and I’ve never been here before.

And I put in to get the COVID vaccine at home

and Punxsutawney was the closest place, [laughs] so,

it’s my first time ever here, [chuckles] ’cause of that.

[traffic humming]

[bird squawking] [traffic humming]

Can’t believe it’s just in, like, a neighborhood, you know?

‘Cause I was, like, a tenth of a mile away

and there’s like somebody’s garage.

I’m like, this can’t be right.

[shuffling footsteps]

[bird squawking]

[people chattering] [gentle quiet music]

[gentle dramatic music]

[train car clattering] [gentle dramatic music]

♪ Where oh where is Mr. Groundhog ♪

♪ Where oh where is Mr. Groundhog ♪

♪ Where oh where is Mr. Groundhog ♪

♪ Sleeping in his burrow ♪

♪ Shh, he’s peeking out his hole ♪

♪ Shh, he’s peeking out his hole ♪

♪ Shh, he’s peeking out his hole ♪

♪ Now what will we do ♪

♪ Oh no ♪

[train car clattering] [gentle dramatic music]

[Speaker] Hey, how’s it goin’?

[men shouting] [gentle dramatic music]

[wind hissing] [birds chirping]

Well, it’s disappointing,

this whole area is going backwards–

It’s sad. I hate to say that

every time somebody kinda asks,

but that’s the way this area is.

There’s not a lot of growth here

and I don’t foresee anything in the future

that’s gonna make any difference.

[wind hissing]

And the coal business is no longer here anymore

and there’s really not a lot of other work

and it’s disappointing, but,

to me, personally, the area is so nice,

and I was born and raised over the hill over here,

but you know, it’s just a nice area.

It’s always safe and we never really have,

you know, I don’t really wanna leave,

but maybe someday it’s gonna have to come to that.

[gentle piano music]

[engine humming] [gentle piano music]

Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye,

now this second day of February, 2src21,

the 135th annual track of Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

Punxsutawney Phil, the seer of seers,

the prognosticator of all prognosticators,

was awakened from his burrow at 7:25 a.m.

by his handler and friend

on this quiet morning where few can attend.

In groundhog, he’s Phil directed the president

and the inner circle to his prediction scroll that reads,

It’s a beautiful morning, this I can see,

with all my fans viewing virtually.

My faithful followers being safe and secure,

our tradition of Groundhog Day must endure.

We have all passed through the darkness of night,

but now see hope in morning’s bright light.

But now, when I turn to see,

there’s a perfect shadow cast of me!

Six more weeks of winter there will be!

[audience cheers] [applauds]

[wind hissing]

[playful horn music] [scratching record]

♪ I’m a lowdown dog if some groundhog ♪

♪ Ain’t been rootin’ ’round my backyard ♪

♪ Every time I kiss my man ♪

♪ It seem to make him sore ♪

♪ One bite won’t hurt you, or even two ♪

♪ Three is bound to break your poor heart in two ♪

♪ I’m a lowdown dog if some groundhog ♪

♪ Ain’t been rootin’ ’round my backyard ♪

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