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Amid Groundhog Day-esque pandemic, groundhog predicts 6 more weeks of US winter

There will be six more weeks of winter, Punxsutawney Phil predicts as he emerges from his burrow on a snowy morning to perform his Groundhog Day duties.

Members of Phil’s “inner circle” wake up the furry critter at 7:25 a.m. at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to see whether he would see his shadow or not.

Shortly after this year’s prediction is revealed, one of the members of the inner circle shares a message he said Phil had told him earlier in the day: “After winter, you’re looking forward to one of the most beautiful and brightest springs you’ve ever seen.”

Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle Members Jason Gursky and official handler, AJ Dereume and Punxsutawney Phil, the weather-predicting groundhog, work a Zoom call with schoolchildren in hundreds of schools throughout the United States on Gobblers Knob on February 1, 2021 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)

Another member of the “inner circle” notes the uniqueness of the past year.

“People have been referencing Groundhog Day. It has felt like at times we’re all living the same day over and over again,” one of the members says. “Groundhog Day also shows us that the monotony ends. The cycle will be broken.”

“Today actually is Groundhog Day, there’s only one,” he adds. “There is quite literally a new day coming over the horizon.”

The spectacle that is Groundhog Day still went on, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, revelers weren’t able to see Phil and celebrate in person: This year, it was all virtual.

A livestream, which had more than 15,000 viewers at one point, played footage from previous Groundhog Day’s ahead of the big reveal.

Then of course, the prognosticator of prognosticators — assisted by his Inner Circle — emerged at dawn. The lore goes that if he sees his shadow as he did this year, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, spring comes early.

The livestream from Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northeast of Pittsburgh, is made possible by the Pennsylvania Tourism Office’s Holi-stay PA. The event there — always Feb. 2 — dates back to 1887.

Phil this year, like many years in the past, gives his forecast during a major snowstorm that hit the entire Northeast.

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