Groundhog Day Again
It’s Groundhog Day again. It happens like clockwork every year. A festival of predicting weather dating back the nineteenth century. Mercifully, Punxsutawney Phil is called to task just once a year, unlike in the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day”.
I like Groundhog Day. I’m always interested in knowing the prediction. I adored the preschool artwork that came home with little paper cut outs of the sun, a shadow and the furry star of the day. But most of all I love listening to my husband retell his firsthand experience at Gobbler’s Knob with his siblings, cousin and friends.
It was 1999 and my brother-in-law Todd lived in Pittsburgh. Always one for adventure he goaded a posse of family and friends into joining him in Punxsutawney for the big event. They purchased brown sweatsuits which they turned inside out, attached socks for ears, used makeup to polish their noses and arrived at the festivities dressed up as groundhogs. They didn’t realize they’d be the only ones in costume.
Trying to avoid the mob scene of people and escape the rain, they ducked into a bar to play pool. It was obvious this was a local’s establishment whose patrons were not amused by the annual influx of tourism. The music stopped and there was a long uncomfortable pause. Anything could have happened at that moment. They lucked out when a salty local looked at the bartender, slapped his meaty hand on the bar and said, “Bartender, I’d like to buy four groundhogs a beer.”. The place erupted with cheers.
Also sitting at the bar was a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, wallowing in her unlucky draw of the short straw, when her story landed in her lap. The groundhogs played pool, gave interviews and were handed press passes to the next morning’s event.
There is much more to the story including the backstory of Todd convincing his family and friends from all corners of the country to join him on this trip. I’ve left out those details, but they are part of the richness of the tale that Kevin retells every year. A story that repeats itself over and over again, but never gets old, on Groundhog Day.