Archives for January 2007

Is Punxsutawney Phil in for a Rude Awakening on Groundhog Day?

It looks like Punxsutawney Phil is in for a rude awakening. His Inner Circle has been accused of keeping him supplied with a questionable elixir and organizing nubile female woodchuck company. How will he deal with the growing scandals?

“It is a curse of celebrity status–Punxsutawney Phil will probably attempt to dig his way out of this whole mess.” according to Diana L Guerrero.


The book, scheduled for release in April, talks about Candlemas and the tradition of Groundhog Day.

Guerrero writes, “Groundhog Day occurs halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. In the United States, wild and wacky groundhog “weathermen” stick their necks out to make weather predictions early in the year. Real animals, these groundhogs “forecast” the end of winter or beginning of spring in an old tradition linked to Candlemas.”

In Punxsutawney, Groundhog Day is a big deal and has been celebrated on Gobbler’s Knoll since 1887. The event is broadcast throughout the United States and has even appeared on the JumboTron in New York.

Punxsutawney Phil is known as “The Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary” and his notoriety has drawn crowds of over 30,000 to the little town with 6,000 residents.

So how does he predict the weather? The tale is that the groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow. If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole. If the day is cloudy and shadowless he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

The groundhog tradition stems from beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people.

Today’s groundhog has to be adaptable so Phil has branched out into other activities besides weather prediction. He meets with president, talk show hosts, and also makes political statements.

For instance, during prohibition, Phil threatened to impose 60 weeks of winter if could not get a drink.

Punxsutawney itself is filled with tributes to their famous resident. Sculptures, artistic murals, and other tributes to the groundhog (slang for woodchuck) adorn the town.

Events leading up to the big day on February 2nd include groundhog festivals, a groundhog jog, a groundhog lasagna luncheon, the crowning of king and queen groundhog and Mr & Miss groundhog, a woodchuck whittle carving exhibition, a Phil Phind scavenger hunt, the Phil Phest, and more–you can even buy Groundhog Brew.

You can apply for a Groundhog day club membership at and if you want a sneak preview of BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS, due out this April, today.

Review copies of BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS: A GUIDE TO PRAYERS & CEREMONIES CELEBRATING PETS AND OTHER CREATURES (ISBN 1402729677) are available to journalists. Contact Sterling Publishing Publicity at (212) 532-7160.

BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS is available for preorder from Sterling Publishing,, and and will be available at booksellers throughout the United States in April of 2007.

Diana L Guerrero is available for interviews and online previews of this book are available online at please also visit: or

Other Groundhog Day Links:
Tom Purcell Groundhog Day & the ACLU

Out of Chuck’s Shadow
Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day Celebrations

Woody Competes with Phil

Groundhog Day Fest

Only His Shadow Knows

Punxsutawney: Dig it!

Groundhog Day: A Critics Guide to Punxsutawney

Punxsutawney Who?

Puppy Patrol

One of my human students took this snap of me with two Canine Club members(and dog school students). I thought you’d like to take a look at these pooches who ride in style. They only travel locally in the mountains and three actually travel–the third couldn’t fit through the window!