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No Shadow? No More Winter

Villanova+students+pose+with+Punxsutawney+Groundhog+Day+announcer
Patrick Casale
Villanova students pose with Punxsutawney Groundhog Day announcer

Just four hours away from Villanova’s campus lies Punxsutawney, PA home to the famous Punxsutawney Phil. Each year on Feb. 2, people patiently wait for this groundhog to pop out of hibernation and predict whether there will be six more weeks of winter. 

While some may find it strange that we turn a groundhog to predict the weather, the tradition that began in 1877 has carried on and become a beloved event in the United States and Canada. The superstition originated with the Pennsylvania Dutch, but when it hit the papers in 1886, the event became a nationally recognized holiday the next year.

This year, on this fateful day, when the groundhog came out, he was not spooked back into hibernation by a shadow, as there was no shadow to be found. This is only the 20th time since the tradition began that Phil has not seen his shadow, compared to the 108 times he did. 

Although many put their full faith in this little rodent, he is only correct about 39% of the time. Since the release of the classic film, Groundhog Day, with Billy Murray in 1993, the celebration of the holiday has grown immensely attracting up to 35,000 people compared to before, when only about 5,000 people would come.  

“I think Punxsutawney Phil is the only thing this country stands together on,” Villanova junior Jill Williams. “We all love him. We all think the spelling of his name is superfluous, and we are all outraged when he sees his shadow.” 

Several Villanova students embraced the full spirit of the holiday and drove to Punxsutawney County to see what all the excitement was about. Sophomore students Loren Eskesen, Riley Newall, Charlotte Potter and Charlotte Walkey left campus at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday evening and arrived the next day at 4 a.m. The four parked at a nearby Walmart and took the bus to Gobbler’s Knob, the site of the event. On arrival, the group was welcomed by a crowd of thousands, a big stage with musical numbers and even a fireworks show. The group left at around 7:30 a.m. and returned to campus, exhausted from an all-nighter. 

“It was a bucket list item and a really fun experience that I’d highly recommend that people do sometime in their life,” Potter said. 

Another group of sophomore students attended, including Brenna Schattenkerk, Elise Lin, Patrick Casale, Molly Pawlik and Abby Adamo. The group also arrived at 4 a.m. Pawlik expressed her surprise that everything in town was open, allowing her to grab a McDonald’s breakfast before waiting to see Phil. The group was able to finally see him at 7:30 a.m. and returned to campus at 12:30 p.m. Casale said that it was a unique experience, but would probably be his last time going.  

“I don’t know what I was expecting but it was definitely a lot different than I thought,” Schattenkerk, originally from Seattle, WA, said. “Pennsylvanians do not take their Groundhog Day lightly, it was a crazy experience.”

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  • J

    James OHareFeb 7, 2024 at 3:33 pm

    You got the County wrong.

    Reply
    • E

      Emma CahillFeb 20, 2024 at 10:18 pm

      Hello, James. Thank you for your comment! This has been updated and reflected in our article by referring to Puxatawney as a town rather than a county.

      Reply