PUNXSUTAWNEY — It's a spicy, hot pizza — and we do mean hot — when World Pizza Champion (WPC) Patt Miller returns to Punxsutawney to flip his flaming pizzas as part of this weekend's Groundhog Day festivities.
Rob McCoy, director of the Punxsutawney Area Community Center (PACC), said Miller will headline several performances in the Jackson Theater and in Barclay Square throughout the holiday weekend.
McCoy said Miller made his mark in Punxsutawney during Groundhog Festival week in 2010, as he performed on South Gilpin Street and in the Jackson Theater in addition to a local competition held involving staff members of the Punxsutawney Spirit.
During the 2013 Groundhog Day festivities, Miller and his colleagues will entertain crowds via their pizza antics with official show times at 9 p.m. Friday at PACC and 9 a.m. Saturday in Barclay Square to the right of the bandstand, McCoy said, adding that between shows they will be "tossing" around town.
McCoy said the acrobatic routine is set to music.
"This routine incorporates tricks, like across the shoulders, through the legs, two at a time and floor movements," McCoy.
He added that when Miller performs his flaming pizza routine, things really start to heat up, especially when he performs it on stage at the Jackson Theater.
He said the routine will be followed by a demonstration that brings audience members on stage to try and learn how to toss a pizza.
"It works out well on Friday, because we will be showing ’Groundhog Day’ the movie at 5 and 11 p.m., and there will be people in and out of the center for the craft show,” he said.
McCoy said a highlight of WPCs visit to Punxsutawney will be two special performances that will occur at Gobbler’s Knob with Inner Circle member Dave Gigliotti, Thunder Conductor.
“I was very excited when I heard about the WPC coming to Punxsutawney to join us for the Groundhog Day celebration," Gigliotti said.
“They are very entertaining and are sure to put on a great show,” said Katie Donald, executive director of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle.
McCoy said the World Pizza Champions have appeared on major networks across the globe.
Miller himself has appeared on “America’s Got Talent,” “World Pizza Games – Las Vegas,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Good Morning America,” “The Today Show” and Telemundo.
In an interview, Miller said he has been pizza tossing competitively since 2005 and now owns three pizzerias in Columbus, Ohio.
He said he got his start when he was 15 years old at Dewey's Pizza in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he first witnessed pizza-spinning.
"I was the youngest employee in the kitchen to toss, and soon became the best at Dewey's Pizza," Miller said, adding that, since 2005, he's competed in competitions around the world, placing more than 10 times in different categories, including acrobatics, largest stretch, fastest pizza maker and culinary.
McCoy also said the group will be available for photo opportunities after the shows.
The World Pizza Champions was founded by Tony Gemignani, nine-time World Pizza Champion.
The Champions form an affiliation to promote their restaurants and skills and, most importantly, to "respect the craft."
You can read about The World Pizza Champions at www.worldpizzachampions.com .