GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Groundhog Day is today. Now that the COVID threat has diminished, thousands of people have flocked to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to hear the long-range forecast from Phil, the groundhog. Punxsutawney has a population of around 5,770 and is about the size of Zeeland or Dowagiac. The event formally began in 1887, although its roots go back even further. In the early morning, Phil is awakened from his temporary home on Gobbler’s Knob, located in a rural area about 2 miles (3 km) southeast of the town center.

Pre-COVID, the 2020 crowd estimates ran as high as 40,000 as Phil emerged from his burrow (with a little help) to give his prognostication. After the ceremony, there’s free coffee and you can line up to get your picture taken with “Phil”.

Legend has it that if Phil sees his shadow the morning of Feb. 2, there will be six more weeks of winter. The legend of the groundhog began with the Pennsylvania Dutch, who were really German. In Germany, it was a badger that did the forecasting, but in Pennsylvania, badgers were scare, so the local groundhog became the prognosticating prophet of precipitation. Phil did see his shadow last year and also in 2021.

ALSO: This is Candlemas Day. There’s an old saying: “Half the wood and half the hay, better have left on Candlemas Day”. That means, you need to have half your winter store of food and firewood left on Feb. 2. If you do, you should make it through the winter. If not, better go out and cut some more wood.


Class of 1964 (8th grade graduates), St. Joseph Elementary School – 1964

Speaking of Groundhog Day…I found this pic. I was class of 1965 at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Wilmette, Illinois. So, this pic. was the class that’s one year older than I am. Check out sixth row, fourth from the left.

We were both golf caddies. I caddied mostly at Westmoreland C.C. and Bill caddied mostly at Indian Hill C.C. Because of my caddying, I earned a full-ride Evans Scholarship to the University of Wisconsin to study Atmospheric Science.

One of my few (and this is minor) regrets is that I didn’t keep up with golf. On Monday, the course was closed for maintenance, but the golf caddies could play golf at the country club Mondays from 7 am – 1 pm. We couldn’t use the tees. We did some crazy stuff. Once, when no one was on the course, we played it backwards…starting at the 18th green and playing to the 17th green.

My father had an old set of irons, the caddymaster gave me an old set of woods and I won a putter at the first caddy dinner. I got a really nice golf bag from one of the men I caddied for when he won another bag.

Today, I am to golf what the Detroit Lions are to the NFL playoffs. I’ve never had a lesson and it shows. My best golf was when I was a senior in high school. I couldn’t afford to play golf in college and the nearest course was miles away. Now, I play once or twice a year and I’d have a hard time breaking 100. I still remember some of my best shots over the years, though.

You were supposed to be 14 years old to caddy, but a friend signed me up when I was 13 and no one asked my age. The first year, you didn’t get a caddy number badge. You went by your initials. Needless to say, neither Bill or I missed a call for a “loop”.

I’ve said all along that I predict that “Phil” will see his shadow. That would mean 6 more weeks of winter. We’ll see in a few hours.