Get ready for six more weeks of winter. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow Thursday morning.
"He looks thrilled to have been taken from the tree," said CBS News Early Show weatherman Dave Price. "Everyone has been buzzing about the last few weeks of winter and how warm it's been."
Hundreds of people gathered at the home of the world's most famous weather prognosticating groundhog Thursday for what turned out to be a bit of a Pittsburgh Steelers' pep rally.
Members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle — the top-hat- and tuxedo-wearing businessmen responsible for carrying on the tradition each year — threw black and gold Terrible Towels at the crowds waiting for Phil.
Many in the crowd were dressed for the gridiron with painted faces and Steelers' jerseys. They sang "Here we go Steelers" while waiting.
Others spectators had different motives. Nancy Durr, from Paxton, Neb., traveled to this small western Pennsylvania town with her six brothers and sisters to celebrate her 50th birthday.
"It's been really wonderful. This is just a ball. I'm having so much fun," said Durr, with rub-on Punxsutawney Phil tattoos on each of her cheeks.
She had been outside awaiting Phil's arrival since about 2:15 a.m. Thursday.
"I just always wanted to spend my birthday here," she said.
Susan Leal also traveled across the country to celebrate her birthday with the groundhog.
"I've always dreamed of coming to see Punxsutawney Phil," said Leal, who turned 40, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. "It's in my genes. I have just always wanted to do this."
Susan picked up a souvenir birthday card to mail to herself Thursday — Groundhog Day — from Punxsutawney, so it will have the post office's cancellation on her birthday. She also managed to wrangle a VIP pass to get up close to the action at Gobbler's Knob, the site just outside of town where Phil issues his proclamation.
Each Feb. 2, thousands descend on Punxsutawney, a town of about 6,100 people located about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, for a little midwinter revelry, celebrating what had essentially been a German superstition.
The Germans believed that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow Feb. 2 — the Christian holiday of Candlemas — winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, legend says spring will come early.
Many people hoped Phil wouldn't see his shadow, but it would have been a rarity if he hadn't. According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Phil has seen his shadow 96 times, hasn't seen it 14 times and there are no records for nine years.
The last time Phil failed to see his shadow was in 1999.
This year saw milder than usual weather, but, still, Phil saw his shadow.
But the weather is secondary. The real point is having fun.
Because no tickets are sold, organizers don't do an official count. But, an estimated 2,000 people were on hand last year, when Groundhog Day fell on a Wednesday. Crowds are larger when Groundhog Day falls on or closer to the weekend and in 2002, estimates placed the number of revelers at 30,000 to 40,000.
Interest in the town's festivities got a huge boost after the 1993 Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day," in which Murray plays a television reporter covering Groundhog Day. Each day he wakes up to the same day.
"As repetitive as it can be, it's different every year," said Mike Johnston, a member of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle — the top-hat- and tuxedo-wearing businessmen responsible for carrying on the tradition.