PUNXSUTAWNEY — Gobbler’s Knob is best known as Punxsutawney Phil’s home worldwide Feb. 2, but as everyone knows, his true home is in what has been known as the Groundhog Zoo in the Punxsutawney Memorial Library.
But recently, Groundhog Club Inner Circle president Bill Deeley said that Phil’s home in the library has undergone some much-needed renovations — as well as a new name.
“We replaced the burgundy canopy on Phil’s home that said ‘Groundhog Zoo’ with a green canopy that says ‘Phil Burrow’ on it,” Deeley said.
The club changed the name from zoo to burrow due to visitors’ perceptions.
“They’d come to the Groundhog Zoo, and they thought they were going to see giraffes, elephants and other types of animals, when in reality, it was just the groundhog’s burrow, which is why we changed the name to Phil’s Burrow,” Deeley said.
He said it was time for a new awning, and the Groundhog Club also performed some renovations to the window.
Coordinated by Phil’s co-handler Ben Hughes, renovations to the large window that Phil appears in were performed by all local businesses through Burke & Sons, Robin McIlvaine and Kelly Skarbek, who did some mural painting in Phil’s home. There will also be a short video to watch.
Deeley said the club was also planning to install new doors and a new ceiling.
“If you remember, he was always escaping, so we installed a new ceiling so he can’t escape anymore,” he said. Wire above the ceiling will also prevent Phil — or any of his groundhog buddies — from getting into the library section, as in the past.
“These improvements should help the visibility during the day,” he said. “There will be improved lighting inside, which will help visibility during the day and night.”
The Groundhog Club received a matching grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the work, in which the club had to raise half of the money.
“Between the money that we put up and the actual grant, funding covered all of the renovation expenses,” Deeley said.
“This is an important location. It is where Phil can be viewed 364 days of the year,” Deeley said, adding that the 365th day, he can be viewed at his stump at Gobbler’s Knob.
“Usually, all the tourists who come to town end up going to Phil’s Burrow just to see him while they’re in town and have their picture taken there,” Deeley said. “There’s also the ‘Phantastic Phil!’ with the top hat that was purchased by the Groudnhog Club for the community at that location. So, it’s definitely the top destination for tourists when they come to town, no matter what time of year it is.”
Deeley added that all of the renovations will be completed long before Phil’s big day Feb. 2.