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Groundhog Day Takes On New Meaning During COVID-19 Pandemic, Annual Tradition To Be Held Virtually

PUNXSUTAWNEY (KDKA) -- It's Groundhog Day! And if you're a fan of the Bill Murray movie you quickly add, Again!

But this year, due to COVID-19, there is no crowd on Gobblers Knob. The ceremonies will go ahead as planned, but virtually this time around.

The President of the Groundhog Club Jeff Lundy is the only one who speaks Groundhog-ese and had a chat with Phil yesterday. "He looks strong, he's had a good winter unfortunately because he hasn't been out and about normally because of COVID we have not done any appearances, this will be his first true public appearance."

As for emerging from his stump at sunrise without the normal crow,  Lundy says, "Well, he actually we went to him after we made the decision we set up a committee in the fall, and and he's okay with that."

So live streamed from the knob, Phil will emerge from his stump into the small top hatted inner circle.

"So it's going to be very strange but but hasn't it been strange for all of us. We think Groundhog Day this year is the light starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Groundhog Day is a 135 year tradition in Punxsutawney and doing it without a crowd has some real world consequences.

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Lundy says, "I've been doing this for a long time. I did not really understand the economic impact until now. And now I see it, because so many businesses they don't depend on on Groundhog Day, but it really is that extra income that you may not get so it has had a, it has had a very very negative impact on the community. We're hoping to make up for it that when people start traveling you know they start coming to town. You know, we're still going to be here. And we hope the tourists continue but but it has had a negative impact just like with everybody else."

Watch as KDKA's John Shumway reports:


Since Bill Murray and company came to town, Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney have taken on a much more high profile life.

Lundy says its year-round as people drive up from Pittsburgh, or see the Punxy exit off I-80 and decide to come take a look at the iconic town. "There are at least 20 to 30 people at the knob, every day of the year."

And each day, "Phil is in his Zoo at all times. He's available at the Knob and if people come and they get ahold of us and they want a photo with with Phil himself, we'll try to make that accommodation."

Since the movie came out in 1993, the name Groundhog Day has taken on a new meaning and Lundy and company embrace the brand, "That's continues and probably will for sometime. I mean how many times during this COVID have you used the phrase its just another Groundhog Day."

It's even in the dictionary listing Groundhog Day as a secondary defination -- referring to a time loop of experience with everyday feeling the same.

A time loop of experience with everyday feeling the same.

A time loop of experience with everyday feeling the same.

As for shadows seen or not, rarely does Phil predict an early spring.

In 135 years over a hundred times he's emerged to announce in Groundhog-ese, six more weeks of winter "is what I see."

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