Punxsutawney Phil prepares to make the Groundhog Day prediction

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) — It’s Groundhog Day and people are waiting to hear if a furry creature in a western Pennsylvania town will predict an early spring or another six weeks of winter.

People will gather at Gobbler’s Knob on Wednesday as members of Punxsutawney Phil’s ‘inner circle’ summon him from his tree stump at dawn to find out if he has seen his shadow. According to folklore, there will still be six weeks of winter if he sees his shadow. If he doesn’t, spring comes early.

The event took place virtually last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, depriving the community, which is about 105 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, of a boost from tourists.

It was broadcast live and seen by over 15,000 viewers worldwide at one time. About 150 cardboard cutouts of fans were there to “watch”.

Officials hope the usual crowd of 10,000 to 15,000 visitors will return in person this year to spend money on accommodation, food, drink and souvenirs.

The annual event has its origins in a German legend about a furry rodent.

According to records dating back to 1887, Phil predicted winter more than 100 times. Ten years were lost because no records were kept, organizers said.

The forecast for 2020 predicted an early spring.

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