PUNXSUTAWNEY — A well-weathered meteorologist, who considers himself to be pretty familiar with Punxsutawney Phil, will be the guest speaker at the Groundhog Day Eve banquet of the Groundhog Club.
Joe Murgo, WTAJ-TV’s Chief Meteorologist, has been a live Gobbler’s Knob broadcaster on Feb. 2 for more than a decade, said Groundhog Club Banquet Master of Ceremonies Jeff Lundy.
The banquet is set for the evening of Feb. 1 at Punxsutawney Area High School, as tourists are flooding into the town for the following morning.
“We consider him our Phil Connors,” Lundy said of Murgo. “The Inner Circle is delighted that he was able to arrange his schedule to also be our guest speaker this year.”
Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is the weatherman character in the 1993 film “Groundhog Day,” who is assigned to cover the event and ends up caught in a time warp, reliving the same Feb. 2 day again and again.
Murgo is considered to be a man accustomed to many climates. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and has lived in places like Oklahoma and West Virginia.
He’s a Penn State University graduate in meteorology, and worked as a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. He also worked in television at WTOV-TV in Ohio, followed by WUSA-TV in Washington D.C.
After experiencing several different kinds of weather, Murgo returned to Pennsylvania in 2001, where he became the state’s first Certified Broadcast Meteorologist — an award given by the America Meteorological Society, the PGC says.
In his spare time, people can catch Murgo teaching meteorology courses at the Penn State University Altoona campus, staying involved with community events or hitting the ski slopes.
Every Groundhog Day for more than 18 years, Murgo has set up near Punxsutawney Phil’s stump at Gobbler’s Knob, where he can fully broadcast the event for his audience.
Murgo’s Facebook page features photos of him “interviewing” the groundhog amidst the chaos.
“Being so involved with Groundhog Day for the better part of two decades now, it’s an absolute honor to be invited to be the speaker at the banquet,” Murgo said. “This will be one extra thing that I have yet to do as almost the real-life Phil Connor, except reliving the day happens each year for me.”
Tickets for the banquet are on sale at the GHC Headquarters at 200 West Mahoning Street. The price of $30 includes a buffet-style meal.