Punxsutaney Phil and me

Penns 019Did you ever wonder where Phil lives?

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.

The ground hog motif is all through the town on signs and sculptures along main street, but no there was no clue how to get to Gobblers and for that matter no clue where Phil was.  Penns 020 Penns 016

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   Penns 015 morning of Feb 2 turns into the Times Square of Pennsylvania, jammed with hundreds of people.

Penns 010

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.

Penns 018

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?



About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in American History, American holidays, Gobblers Knob, Ground Hog Day, Holidays, Punxsutaney Phil, Social History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Punxsutaney Phil and me

  1. jenorv says:

    Reblogged this on An American Family and commented:

    With Ground Hog day coming soon, I am reminded of when we saw Phil, and his wife Phyllis.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.