Thursday, February 3, 2022

Groundhog Day (Deborah)

This week we're doing something a little different and featuring a story by a facilitator! Last year, Deborah told a story about going to Gobblers Knob to celebrate Groundhog Day in person, but we transcribed it well after Groundhog Day had already passed. I'd been sitting on this story for months, waiting for Groundhog Day 2022 to share it with you. So warm up with some spirits (or hot cocoa if you're under 21), strike up the music and sing the Pennsylvania polka with Punxsutawny Phil and the Goundhog Club. But watch out for that first step, it's a doozy!

Deborah Stewart


Groundhog Day

So each February I’m reminded about the time that my friends and I took a road trip to Punxsutawney, PA to attend the annual Groundhog Day Celebration. My friend Amy who was in grad school at the University of Pittsburgh at the time invited me and her sister to join her and a group of her B school friends for the annual celebration. I had seen the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and Geena Davis. For some reason I loved that movie with the weatherman who woke up each day to find that it was once again February 2nd. Never one to turn down the chance to experience something new I figured “What the heck, let’s make it happen.”   
My friend Kia and I drove from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to meet Amy and her friends. Traffic on the PA turnpike was horrific and I seemed like the drive across state was neverending. When we arrived in Pittsburgh, it was late. We only had time to change into our warm clothes and hop into Amy’s car follow the caravan heading north to Punxsutawney.
Punxsutawney was small, very quaint and cold. Really, really cold. The group met in town at a local bar which reminded me of the saloons that you see in old movies There was even a jukebox in the corner. Amy's friends had secured a few rooms in a local motel so we could hang out, and drink and wait for the festivities to begin. Apparently it’s a good idea to drink copious amounts of alcohol leading up to the celebration as a means of protecting the body against the harsh cold.
Around 5 a.m. our group headed out to Gobblers Knob, the sight where Punxsutawney Phil would make his weather prediction later that morning. Upon arriving I noticed a few things: First t was snowing lightly, second it was minus 2 degrees and dark out, and third it was jammed packed with jubilant people. Just like in the movie the crowd was singing songs. We sang multiple rounds of “I Got You Babe” and tunes by the Beach Boys and other well known artists; we sang them all at the top of our lungs. There was dancing and the crowd even circulated a beach ball for some additional fun. It was cold and snowing but the people didn't seem to mind it too much. Around 7:15 a.m. the Inner Circle, the men that you see on t.v. with the black coats and top hats that are responsible for the celebration, they took the stage and they greeted the crowd. Shortly thereafter they woke Phil up and pulled him from a small tree stump that sat on a table in the middle of the stage. The crowd cheered and they began talking to Phil. "Good Morning Phil" "What's that you said Phil?” "What's it gonna be this year Phil?"
This went on for some time until finally a member of the Inner Circle read Phil's prediction and lifted him into the air. I cannot recall what Punxsutawney Phil predicted that year whether it would be an early spring or 6 more weeks of winter. What I will always remember though is how quickly the whole celebration ended. Immediately after Phil's weather prediction the music stopped, the Inner Circle packed Phil up and left the stage, and the crowd dispersed very quickly. It was almost as if the events at Gobblers Knob never happened. Or perhaps it was that the warmth associated with alcohol consumption wore off and the reality of the cold set in.

If you want to transcribe for Best Day, then email us at You can also share our older buds' adventures by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. And if you or the older buds have stories for Groundhog Day, then you or they can submit stories through our portal right here. We're especially interested to stories from Black older buds, but we're always looking for stories from older buds of color, older buds with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ older buds, older buds of any gender or sex, older buds of any religion, and older buds who just plain break the mold.

And don't forget to maintain contact with the older buds in your life. If you can't be there in person, please call them, email them, or message them on social media. And if they're using teleconferencing or remote events for the first time, give them a call and help them set things up. Check in on them to see how well they're getting used to these programs. Buy them a computer or an internet package if they don't have one of their own. It's a human right, after all.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri