Punxsutawney Phil sparked mock outrage around the country when he incorrectly predicted an early spring, leading an Ohio prosecutor to seek the death penalty for the famous Groundhog. Now the Groundhog’s handler is putting on the brakes and asserting that he, not Phil, is to blame.
Bill Deeley, the president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle, claims that the wise groundhog correctly predicted six more weeks of winter. Instead, it was Deeley who incorrectly interpreted Punxsutawney Phil’s “groundhog-ese” and announced an early spring.
Mike Gmoser, the Ohio prosecutor from Butler County, told the Associated Press that he is reconsidering the charges and may issue a full pardon for the groundhog.
Punxsutawney Phil lives in Punxsutawney, PA, over 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. On Febuary 2 of each year, better known as Groundhog Day, Phil is honored by a festival thrown in his honor. When Phil emerges from his temporary home in Gobbler’s Knob, two miles east of town, he works his magic. If he sees his shadow and returns to his home, there will be six more weeks of winter. If there is no shadow, then there will be an early spring.
This year, in front of thousands of people, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow and predicted an early spring.
Punxsutawney Phil’s egregiousness miscalculation led Gmoser to call for his death.
“Let’s face it, Punxsutawney Phil has let us down,” Gmoser said after filing the necessary court documents last week. “I awoke this morning to a snowstorm, low temperatures and howling wind.”
Puncsutawney Phil did not take the accusations lying down:
People are shocked a prognosticating marmot couldn’t accurately predict the weather? Pretty high expectations, humans.
— Punxsutawney Phil (@GroundhogPhil) March 22, 2013
Despite the hoopla, Punxsutawney Phil has done quite well for himself. Gmoser’s indictment has generated more publicity than a $10,000 ad campaign. Nevertheless, Punxsutawney Phil’s wife, Phyllis, is surely grateful that her husband’s handler has taken the blame and set the record straight.