DuBOIS — “Phil! Phil! Phil! Phil! Phil!”
Those were the chants — and lots of applause — heard from students at DuBois Central Catholic Elementary School when the most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania visited them Monday.
“We’re so happy to see the enthusiasm in here for Phil,” said handler John Griffiths, who was accompanied by former handler and stump warden Ron Ploucha, and, of course, Phil.
The two members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle talked about what groundhogs eat (his favorite food is kale), where they live and other interesting facts about Phil and his hometown. The students learned that Phil’s wife is Phyllis and he bites his handlers often.
Students learned that in less than two weeks, Pennsylvania’s No. 1 groundhog will be pulled out of his Punxsy burrow and, according to legend, if he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.
That will be Groundhog Day, which is on Feb. 2.
The Inner Circle members also initiated some audience participation including bringing first-grader Tyler Pfingstler and fourth-grader Mattie Gritzer up on the stage because they both have Groundhog Day birthdays, Feb. 2. In addition to receiving “It’s My Birthday On Groundhog Day” badges and black top hats, both of the students were officially crowned Groundhog King and Queen of the DCC Elementary School.
They also tried to see if they could possibly influence Phil’s decision on Feb. 2 — with a singing contest between the winter cheerleaders and the spring cheerleaders.
The students were also made Punxsutawney Phil Ambassadors.
“If you see somebody from out of town, you make sure you welcome them and you help them anyway you can, and thank them for coming to our area because you’re all benefiting a little from Punxsutawney Phil. It’s not just Punxsy, it’s for everybody in the region,” Griffiths said.