TRIVIAL PURSUITS: How Many Phils Have There Been?

February 2, 2010 ( - The first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob for Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction was made on February 2nd, 1887.

A groundhog’s lifespan is normally 6 to 8 years.  How many Punxsutawney Phils have there been?   


According to the official website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, there has been only one Punxsutawney Phil.

How is that possible?  Well, according to the “official” site, Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking “groundhog punch” (a secret recipe). One sip, which is administered every summer at the Groundhog Picnic, gives him seven more years of life.

When German settlers arrived in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, in the 1700s, they brought a tradition known as Candlemas Day - the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox (Candlemas from the custom of early Christian clergy to bless candles and give them to people in the dark of winter).  Superstition held that if the weather was fair on the mid-point day, the second half of winter would be stormy and cold.  Germans watched for badgers to cast shadows; the Pennsylvania Germans chose the groundhog as a "replacement." 

The first official celebration of Groundhog Day was on February 2, 1886 - and Punxsutawney Phil didn't see his shadow.  Phil has seen his shadow 98 times, hasn't seen it 15 times, and there are no records for ten years.  This year he is expected to see his shadow, retreat to his burrow, and predict six more weeks of winter.  However, Phil's prognostications have only been correct about 39% of the time.  You can see his record at

Last week we reported that Punxsutawney Phil would be texting his prediction – if you didn’t sign up for that text, but are curious to know what it says, you can check it out here.

Well, you will be able to once we get OUR text (probably somewhere around 7:30 a.m. ET). 

Editor's Update.  So, here it is 8 a.m. and NO TEXT from Phil yet!  Of course, maybe he's hiding now that he has predicted 6 more weeks of winter!  And this with nary a shadow in sight!   I demand a recount!  

9:15 a.m. Still no text from Phil... maybe they're working on that recount.... 

9:59 a.m. FINALLY the text arrives:

"Hey, just saw my shadow.  I hereby do predict 6 more weeks of winter.  Last one to a PA ski lodge is an opposum. - Phil"

yeah - all that - a wait - and a plug for Pennsylvania tourism!  Thanks for "playing"...