Maggie O'Mara: Behind the Scenes

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Punxatawney Phil saw his shadow!

by Maggie O'Mara

Bio | Email | Follow: @maggiektvb7


Posted on February 2, 2010 at 10:14 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 3:55 AM

It's Groundhog Day!

This morning, bright and early - Punxatawney Phil came out of his little tree stump and saw his shadow. You know what that means, right?

SIX more weeks of winter.

While this groundhog gets plenty of attention every February 2nd, the rest of the year America's most famous forecaster spends his time in a specially built den with his "wife" Phyllis (I had no idea groundhogs got married) and a couple of other groundhog friends.

Last week, we aired a story about PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) being upset about Punxy Phil's living conditions and high stress levels. They're claiming animal cruelty. They want him replaced with an animatronic groundhog robot. I'm not kidding around with you... this was a REAL story. 

After that story aired, I got this Facebook message from a viewer by the name of Patrick Shaffer: 

"Hey Maggie,


Punxy Phil (if you've been a local, you get to call him that) has the life that everybody would want! Climate controlled, rent free housing, quarterly check ups from a state vet, awesome food, works about 5 days a year and has thousands of fans. He lives in the city building - and in 1996 when the town flooded he was one of the first things to head for the hills. For a groundhog, he's got it going on. Even Larry doesn't have the life that little guy has!"

-Patrick Shaffer

After Patrick's message, I thought I'd look into it. Wouldn't you know it? Patrick was right! Punxy has it pretty darn good...

In Central Pennsylvania, it's well known that Phil lives in the lap of luxury all year. Phil may even have a better life than you do! He's got air conditioning in the summer (my house doesn't even have AC!), his pen is heated in winter. He has every amenity out there, except a TV in his little den.

All he does during the year (except on Groundhog Day) is eat, sleep and get his picture taken... not a bad gig, huh!  Where can we sign up for that kind of work?