PUNXSUTAWNEY — Once again a large crowd gathered at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney to find out what Phil’s prediction would be this year. By 5:30 a.m. the number of people was already more than 10,000 and still growing steadily.

The buses were continuously packed with people shuttling from their cars, and more were still trying to find parking a mere hour before Phil would come out. All the parking areas were full, overflow parking was heading to the high school, and anyone who could was just parking in the snow.

When the inner circle made their way through the crowd of people, renewed energy took over the crowd that had been standing in the single-digit temperatures all morning.

They acknowledged inner circle member Rusty Johnson, as this was his 50th Groundhog Day celebration that he’s been a part of.

When it was time for Phil to be brought out from his burrow, the crowd waited to see what the next six weeks of weather would be like. There was no shadow, and an early spring was announced to be on its way.

The crowd quickly split into two groups after the famous weather prediction was made. Some made their way towards the stage for pictures, while others rushed to escape from the icy weather.

Two members of the crowd, Roger and Diane Beecher, came all the way from Romeo, Michigan, for the event. They made the six-hour drive to Clarion which was the closest hotel they were able to find for the weekend. They came to the annual Groundhog Day celebration as a way to celebrate Roger Beecher’s 60th birthday, which happens to fall on the same day.

“We’re extremely impressed with their marketing team... and it shows with the size of the crowd,” Roger Beecher said. They explained the marketing team worked very well with them to plan ahead. There were excited to be attending the Groundhog Ball Saturday evening.

Mark Macyk and Jacqueline Ricciardi only had to travel from Philadelphia to get to the celebration, but they had an interesting reason for coming. This was their first time attending the event. The couple wore matching groundhog onesies and were promoting a book they had written about Groundhog Day. They described the book, titled “Kaboom,” as a comedy thriller about the day itself.

People traveled from all over to see the famous Punxsutawney Phil, many, including those who live locally, hoping his predictions of an early spring will hold true, and they will see some warmer weather soon.

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