PUNXSUTAWNEY — Where in the world are you today? Why, you're in Punxsutawney, the Weather Capital of the World, the home of Punxsutawney Phil, of course.
Certainly, there are cities and towns all over the world that have unusual highlights and notable residents or natives, but none of those cities and towns have the fame and notoriety possessed by Punxsutawney.
Oh, you don't believe it? Well, consider these “Punxsy-isms,” and ask yourself the following:
WHERE IN THE WORLD …
• can you learn that there's an East End, a West End, a South Side, but no discernible area referred to as the North Side/North End?
• can you satisfy your hunger with a T-Burger, a Sara Slapper, a Carlino Burger, a Top Hat, a hot dog with Frank Mamolito's special sauce or a Wedgie?
• can you discover that the town's central gathering place, Barclay Square, is not actually square?
• can you meet a mayor nicknamed “Snake,” or a retired state representative referred to as “Snuffy?”
• can you cheer for the Chucks, the local high school's mascot?
• can you drive a few miles outside town and find signs directing travelers to Panic, Desire and Paradise?
Those are only a few tidbits about Punxsy's unique everyday life. But think about Punxsutawney Phil and Groundhog Day, and ask yourself about Punxsy:
WHERE IN THE WORLD …
• can you walk the streets and find groundhog statues on nearly every street and corner?
• can you find a 24-foot wooden groundhog at the base of a runaway truck ramp?
• can you find groundhogs living in the public library?
• do you learn that local students do not attend school on Groundhog Day, because all of the school buses are used to transport Groundhog Day fans to Gobbler's Knob?
• is it an honor to be named the Groundhog King and Queen as a high school senior?
• do you find the inspiration for a major Hollywood film, “Groundhog Day,” in 1993, starring former “Saturday Night Live” star Bill Murray and Cover Girl spokeswoman Andie MacDowell, and directed by Harold Ramis?
• do you learn that despite serving as the setting for that major Hollywood film, none of the footage was filmed in Punxsy?
• do you find out that the film inspired terminology currently used by the U.S. Armed Forces, i.e., “Groundhog Day: Every day of your tour in Iraq. Term suggests the days never change —always long and hot, and the same events keep recurring. From the Bill Murray movie 'Groundhog Day.'” (Source: National Public Radio).
Now that you have an idea about Punxsutawney's unique facts and setting, adjust your thinking and ponder the following:
THE WORLD …
• has a groundhog met a U.S. President (Ronald Reagan, in 1986) and toured the White House?
• has a groundhog mingled with celebrities such as show business legend Regis Philbin; actress Mariska Hargitay; MTV personality Bam Margera; CNN's Jeanne Moos; actor Stephen Towbolowsky (who played Ned Ryerson in “Groundhog Day,” and was the guest speaker at the 2010 Groundhog Banquet); retired NBA star Darryl Dawkins of ESPN's “Cold Pizza;” former CBS “Early Show” personality Mark McEwen; Boston Brewing Company/Samuel Adams Beer founder Jim Koch; and, of course, Oprah Winfrey?
• has a groundhog had a beer, a wine and vodka produced in his honor?
• has a groundhog served as the inspiration for several record-breaking Ty Beanie Babies?
• has a groundhog been imitated — but never duplicated — by wannabe-prognosticators around North America?
• is a groundhog respected and revered by those in the scientific community?
• has had a groundhog displayed on the Jumbotron in Times Square, New York City?
has a groundhog inspired a holiday — Feb. 2, Groundhog Day — that appears on the majority of calendars produced annually around the world?
• has a groundhog inspired the establishment of the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center, dedicated to not only his wisdom, but also to the folklore and science of weather prediction?
• has a groundhog inspired former Inner Circle President Bill Cooper to observe, "There are many serious and important things in life, and Groundhog Day is not one of them."
• has a groundhog welcomed two Pennsylvania governors — the first in 2003, the second Wednesday and Thursday — to Groundhog Day?
It's a simple question with a simple answer.
WHERE IN THE WORLD ARE YOU TODAY? You're in Punxsutawney, the Weather Capital of the World, the home of Punxsutawney Phil, of course!
Terry A. Fye and Spirit Publisher Mary Jude Troupe contributed to this report.