Crowds gathered on Gobbler’s Knob for Groundhog Day forecast

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pennsylvania — The handlers of Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog are set to announce whether the rodent will predict an early spring or six more weeks of winter.

Members of Punxsutawney Phil’s top hat-wearing inner circle plan to reveal their forecast at sunrise, just before 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

The festivities have their origin in a German legend that says if a furry rodent casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter continues. If not, spring comes early.

In reality, Phil’s prediction is decided ahead of time by the group on Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney. That’s about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Records dating to 1887 show Phil predicting more winter 102 times while forecasting an early spring just 18 times — including last year. There are no records for the remaining years.

According to a survey from NationalToday.com, only 49% of Americans know that Groundhog Day is Feb. 2.

11% of respondents don’t know what Groundhog Day is all about.

Other findings include:

  • 91% are not a big fan of Groundhog Day
  • 30% think Groundhog Day is a pointless holiday.
  • 9% love Groundhog Day
  • 8% believe the groundhog is always right about the weather
  • 3% have used Groundhog Day as an excuse not to go to work
  • 13% celebrate by watching the movie “Groundhog Day”