I had a wild and crazy weekend. I had a weekend up in Kirtland a couple weeks ago (which I have yet to write about) but thought I’d cover this weekend while it’s still fresh in my memory. What was so great this weekend? Groundhog Day!
For the last two years I’ve thrown a Groundhog Day party. It’s an easy event to throw since I just show the Bill Murray movie and we eat some donuts or other treats featured in the movie. But this year we decided to take it up a notch. Since Pennsylvania is only a state away we decided to go to Punxsutawney itself. So we were there, where it all happened. And it was AWESOME.
We left right after class on Thursday. We had quite a few people drop out during the week (we made sure to tell them about how awesome it was afterwards) and ended up with 15 people making the Punxsutawney Pilgrimage. We caravanned out way out to Clarion, which is a couple towns away from Groundhog Zero. The trip was enjoyable and included singing TV theme songs, listening to the Pennsylvania Polka many times over and quoting the movie as best we could. We got to our hotel room around 10 and had a couple hours of fun before going to sleep. Our 2 hotel rooms served quite well to house us all, though it certainly wasn’t my best night’s sleep ever. This was primarily because we had to get up at 4 to head to Gobbler’s Knob. They opened the Knob at 3, but with the winter weather we decided we didn’t want to wait around in the cold for 5 hours.
So we left around 5. Unfortunately I discovered that my headlight was out and it was snowing, which made for a tense ride to our final destination. Luckily it was only about a 45 minute trip and we were in the town itself. We found the shuttle bus and eventually made our way up to the Knob. We had bundled ourselves up very heavily and it actually wasn’t that cold, probably no less than 25 degrees. We made it to the Knob itself around 6:30, which gave us some time to look around before going to see Phil. We weren’t able to get that close to the stage because several thousand people had gotten there earlier than we. Many were also inebriated, which I assume was their method for keeping warm. Drunk people are even funnier at 6 in the morning than at 10 at night. We had a guy next to us keep yelling “Groundhog tastes like chicken!” which got funnier to both us and him every time he yelled it.
The festivities were quite ridiculous. They played such classics as Who Let the Dogs Out and Feeling Hot Hot Hot to get us pumped up. At 7 they had a fireworks show, which was alright, but made a bit funnier because they kept playing the Star Wars music through the whole thing. Over and over and over. The Inner Circle took the stage at 7:20 and started the official ceremony. If you’ve seen the movie, the Circle are the guys in the suits and top hats who officiate the event and are local celebrities. We even had the chance to get their autographs later that afternoon. Phil’s shadow-looking was actually remarkably similar to the movie, but the best thing was watching the crowd go crazy as they held the rodent up and paraded him about the stage. When they announced that spring would come early the crowd went even crazier. It was truly a sight to behold.
We hung around the Knob for a bit after the event, mostly to see if we could get a picture with Phil. The line was too long so we decided we wanted to walk back to town instead of taking the bus. On the way we discovered that the Punxsutawney ward meets just a couple blocks from the Knob. How convenient for us.
We got back into town and had some awesome pancakes at a local establishment. Then we wondered about town, soaking up the Groundhog culture. There were ice statues, chainsaw carving, a whittling exhibit, several craft fairs, several Groundhog memorabilia stores, even a groundhog zoo. We eventually found Phil again and got some pictures. We talked to the Inner Circle and decided that we’d form our own Outer Circle for next year. We danced around pagan groundhog statues, got to know some locals and got sucked into some local “museums.” We didn’t end up watching the movie (it was showing at several theaters) but we did see an autographed copy of the script and Bill Murray’s chair at one of the museums, which were all based out of people’s homes. The weather was pretty perfect. It never got that cold and we had some snowfall throughout the day that heightened the experience. It wasn’t as fun driving home in it, but we all made it.
We’re going back to Punxy next year. We’re going to try to sleep at the local chapel, and if not we’ll try to get a spot in town. It’ll be on Saturday so we think we’ll have a group of 30 or 40 to go with us. I was just called as the ward Activities Co-Chair, so I may even make it an official event. I may lose a few points on our next test due to my absenteeism on Friday, but it was well worth it.
Song of the moment: Pennsylvania Polka.