Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog Day: How Many Talented Psychic Rodents In America?

Punxutawney Phil

From Denny:  Predicting the end of winter is serious business in America.  We take our groundhog psychics seriously, so seriously that several other cities are promoting their own prognosticators.  Watch the media attention grow and the dollars flow in for tourism.

Punxsutawney Phil

The psychic rodent best known is Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania. His fan club, The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, keeps those all important statistics.

Their groundhog Phil has seen his shadow 99 times, which means winter will continue another six weeks.  He has not seen his shadow only 16 times.  Only nine years are not accounted for since they have been keeping records since 1887.  FYI, it isn't the exact same rodent for the past century.

From Mike Johnston, Vice President of the Inner Circle of Punxsutawney Phil, he says that Phil "has never been wrong.  Phil can't err because he never applies his prognostication to a specific place.  I guarantee you someone's going to have six more weeks of winter."  I bet he winks every time after dishing out that boat load of wisdom.

Storm Fax Weather Almanac says Phil is only correct about 39 percent of the time.  We all know that meteorologists can be a sour lot when it comes to telling them their weather business.  Spoiled sports when the groundhogs out predict them.

Legend of the groundhog day

Check out how the legend of groundhog psychics developed over time.  It started with the Delaware Indians who called their ancestral grandfather "Wojak" which later became known as woodchuck for the woodchucks were considered honorable ancestors since human beings first started out as animals before becoming men.  Bet you didn't know that evolutionary factoid.

Along came the German immigrants in the 1700s with a mixture of pagan celebrations and Candlemas Day which occurred between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  They hoped the sun would show up on Candlemas Day (around February 2nd) and an animal would cast a shadow, thus believed another six weeks of winter would continue.

Germans started watching a badger for the all important shadow.  In Pennsylvania, it was the groundhog that was chosen as a replacement because it would awaken from a mid-winter hibernation.

Then the tongue in cheek started with the newspaper in Pennsylvania, The Punxsutawney Spirit, when in 1886, editor Clymer Freas declared:  "Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow."

It was that year the groundhog was named Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.  Phil's hometown was dubbed the Weather Capital of the World.  Who said the Victorian Age did not enjoy its satire?

More about groundhogs, aka woodchucks?  They are a member of the squirrel family.  They usually eat such tasty morsels in the wild like dandelion, clover and grasses.  Of course, Phil is American and well pampered so he weighs in at 15 pounds.  He prefers to dine on dog food and ice cream in his climate-controlled special burrow known as Punxsutawney Library.

Who are Phil's challengers to his Seer Title?

This is the stuffed, ok, taxidermied groundhog, known as Potomac Phil that hails from Washington, D.C.  He gets wheeled out to the Dupont Circle Ground Hog Day celebration to determine whether he sees his shadow or not.  Not sure who the human political hack is for him to make the announcement.  But hey, the new burgeoning club played polka music to honor him.

His fans are hoping to raise enough money to replace him with a live groundhog next year.  Until then, Potomac Phil  continues to trash talk his beltway imitator Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania.

And what is Punxsutawney Phil's response to this stuffed upstart?  "Ah, Potomac Phil is Newt Gingrich's first cousin, all trash talk and no money.  I'm the real deal since 1887."

These cookies are served as sacrifice offerings before Potomac Phil.

Other Phil the Groundhog competitors:

Georgia:  General Beauregard Lee, at the Yellow River Game Ranch, the small town of Lilburn just outside of Atlanta, in his Weathering Heights Plantation,  makes groundhog day predictions too.  He regularly comes out of his house on February 2nd.  This year he predicted an early spring, so forget about the winter blues and celebrate!

The word is this psychic rodent has also earned his own honorary doctorate.  Did you know that The National Weather Service has commended him twice for his accurate predictions?  Now that's impressive.  Check out Beau's site to learn more about him and his lineage of psychic relatives.

Ohio:  Buckeye Chuck is their psychic groundhog.  When he checks for his shadow the locals celebrate by dining on spam burgers.  Spam would never pass for food here in Louisiana but hey whatever floats your psychic boat.  Ohio is going to have to kick up their food game to be contenders in the national groundhog day celebration.  No tourists are going to travel far and wide for spam burgers.

New York:  These guys claim that Dunkirk Dave is Punxsutawney Phil's biggest competitor.  He's been making predictions for 59 years now.  His accuracy rate is over 90 percent which is better than Phil's 39 percent all day long.  It's no wonder New York is Groundhog Proud.  And what is Dunkirk Dave's favorite treat?  Granola bars.

New York:  Staten Island Chuck (formerly known as Charles G. Hogg) is a second pampered groundhog in this state.  He does not like to be rushed for the prediction process by Republican politicians like Mayor Bloomberg of New York City.  He bit the mayor to register his displeasure.  Politicians should know better than to pressure gifted psychics.  That's just Psychic 101.

North Carolina:  Sir Walter Wally, of Raleigh, hails from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.  He's a bit of a newbie to the national scene.  Wally has been predicting for 15 years.  The State Climate Office of North Carolina keeps his statistics.  For 2012 he predicted another six weeks of winter.

Alabama:  Birmingham Bill lives at the Birmingham Zoo and his prediction this year is that there are another six weeks of winter.

Smith Lake Jake makes his weather prediction for 2011

Alabama sports a second psychic groundhog, Smith Lake Jake who likes to sport hats, though he has been known to suffer from bouts with asthma.  This was his message in 2011:

"Happy Groundhog’s Day from Smith Lake Jake! Since my asthma is flaring up, I will be unable to make an appearance this Groundhog’s Day.
However; I, Smith Lake Jake, would like to make my prediction. Unfortunately for the State of Alabama, I predict six more weeks of bad weather. So bundle up and keep warm!"
For 2012, Smith Lake Jake predicts an early spring.

2012 Groundhog Predictions
2012 6 more weeks of winter Punxsutawney Phil Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
2012 6 more weeks of winter Malverne Mel Malverne, New York
2012 6 more weeks of winter Balzac Billy Balzac, Alberta, Canada

2012 6 more weeks of winter Sir Walter Wally Raleigh, North Carolina
2012 6 more weeks of winter Birmingham Bill Birmingham, Alabama
2012 Early Spring Lawrenceville Lucy Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania
2012 Early spring Jimmy the Groundhog Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
2012 Early Spring Smith Lake Jake Graysville, Alabama
2012 Early spring Dover Doug Dover, Pennsylvania
2012 Early spring Susquehanna Sherman Mount Wolf, Pennsylvania
2012 Early spring Poor Richard York, Pennsylvania
2012 Early Spring Sir Thomas Hastings Hastings, Nebraska
2012 Early spring Gus Athens, Georgia
2012 Early spring Octoraro Orphie Quarryville, Pennsylvania
2012 Early spring Dunkirk Dave Dunkirk, New York
2012 Early spring General Beauregard Lee Lilburn, Georgia
2012 Early spring Holtsville Hal Holtsville, New York
2012 Early spring Wynter the Groundhog Milwaukee, Wisconsin
2012 Early spring Chuckles Manchester, Connecticut
2012 Early spring Staten Island Chuck Staten Island (New York City)
2012 Early spring Buckeye Chuck Marion, Ohio

* * * Stay tuned until next year when our pampered groundhog psychics will peek their timid heads out of their climate-controlled burrows, making their silly predictions for sillier humans.  After all, any good groundhog just wants to return to their dog food and ice cream swilling ways.  It's a really good gig.

* * * Check out this past post of funny quotes and Groundhog Cookie recipe and more:

Funny Psychic Groundhog Phil Blessed Us With More Winter - Cheeky Quote Day 3 Mar 2010

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