You have seen him on TV, I am sure, “living” in a fake tree stump, but you know that’s not where he really lives.
Phil is probably the most famous ground hog in America thanks to Bill Murray. The movie Ground Hog Day, which hit the theaters in 1993, lifted the small town in Pennsylvania from relative obscurity and made Phil the Superstar of ground dwelling rodents.
When our daughter moved to Pittsburgh in 2009, we decided to drive to Punxsutawney and see Phil. Now getting from Pittsburgh to Punxsy is not easy, it took about 2 hours of driving along small backcountry roads, but we finally made it there about noon.
While the real town resembles its movie clone — there is a large town park surrounded by stores and other commercial enterprises — that is where the resemblance ends. Gobbler’s Knob the location of the GHD events is not in the center of the town as it is in the movie but on the outskirts.
Determined to find them both, we went to the center of any small town — the local fast food place, which I think at this point was McDonalds. The local folks were very helpful, giving a set of somewhat convoluted directions to Gobblers and telling us that Phil lived in the town library.
The town library, of course that makes perfect sense – I guess if you live in Punxsutawney. Actually it does make a lot of sense. The only other place that probably drew the same amount of people was McDonalds and I am sure that they probably didn’t want any more rodents around than nature would provide on its own.
So we got in the car and drove to Gobbler’s Knob. As stated above it is out of town on the hillside. If you have seen Phil’s annual appearance you know that Gobblers on the morning of Feb 2 turns into the Times Square of Pennsylvania, jammed with hundreds of people.
It is a very small area near the stage where Phil is housed. To see it is to be amazed that so many people, and concurrently all the cars to get them there, fit. We were there in April, so no snow, no crowds, and of course no Ground Hog were present.
Phil was back in the library, with another GH whom we assumed was his wife Phyllis. We drove back to the town square and walked to the library and lo and behold, there was a large window gallery area where you could see Phil and his friend.
So there is it, we had seen the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate, and many many other wonders of America.
With Punxsutaney Phil, what more is there left?