The physical crowd may have appeared a bit smaller for Groundhog Day this year, but millions of people elsewhere logged on to the Groundhog Club's Web site — Groundhog.org — to check out Punxsy Phil and happenings around town.
Jeff Grube, the Inner Circle's "Sky Painter" who monitors the site's activity, said the site has about 900,000 individuals visitors, as well as 2.5 million page views. During only Feb. 1 and 2, the hits numbered 895,000.
"We saw a big increase," he said. "We've seen double about every year on the Web site."
"What was really interesting about it was the largest single-interest was from teachers," or those who checked out the Teachers tab on the home page, where educators can find lesson plans, activities, a groundhog game, poems and recipes for groundhog cookies, Grube said. "That was really the largest single thing."
"Historically, we keep crashing everybody," Grube said. "We've been thrown off the providers' places twice. They say, 'You're bringing the whole place to a halt.’”
During Groundhog Day last week, Grube said he met a couple from Yale University, and the gentleman was in charge of all the media for the university.
The couple had seen Groundhog.org previously, and the woman remarked after looking through the various photos, "Everyone in the pictures looked like they were having a good time."
Individuals who checked out the Teachers tab numbered around 270,000, he said.
Also, Groundhog.org directed 250,000 people to the state tourism site — VisitPa.com — which also linked guests to pcntv.com for videos and more.
From its site, Groundhog Day provided a third to one-half of all the hits received on VisitPa.com for the whole year, Grube said, and that event listings for activities, accommodations, planning a trip and more numbered between 60,000 and 70,000 hits.
At a point Feb. 1, the club actually took the site offline because the number of hits was slowing the whole site.