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Punxsutawney Phil Says Spring Coming Early

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (KDKA/AP) - Furry little Punxsutawney Phil made his prediction early Saturday -- spring is coming early.

On Groundhog Day the west-central Pennsylvania community held its welcome-back bash for the famous winter-weather prognosticator.

Phil is known as the "seer of seers" and "sage of sages." Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last six more weeks. No shadow means an early spring.

And this year, there was no shadow to be seen.

Organizers say about 20,000 people were expected for the event, a larger-than-normal crowd because Groundhog Day falls on a weekend this year.

Phil's got company in the forecasting department. There's Staten Island Chuck, in New York; General Beauregard Lee, in Atlanta; and Wiarton Willie, in Wiarton, Ontario, among others noted by the National Climactic Data Center "Groundhog Day" Web page.

  • Watch Phil make his prediction:

"Punxsutawney can't keep something this big to itself," the Data Center said. "Other prognosticating rodents are popping up to claim a piece of the action."

But Punxsutawney partisans insist Phil is the original - and the best.

"We welcome them all. We like the competition," said Bill Deeley, president of the Groundhog Club's Inner Circle, which oversees Punxsutawney celebrations every year.

  • KDKA's Paul Martino Reports:

The 1993 movie "Groundhog Day" starring Bill Murray brought even more notoriety to Pennsylvania's pudgy little guy. The record attendance was about 30,000 the year after the movie's release, said Katie Donald, executive director of the Groundhog Club. When Feb. 2 falls on a weekday, about 13,000 people turn out for the event.

Phil typically gets rousted out of the Gobbler's Knob tree stump about 7:15 a.m. by an entourage wearing top hats and tuxedos. The forecast for that hour Saturday calls for a chance of snow with temperatures in the single digits.

Dancing at the scene should help some people stay warm. Or just huddling together with thousands of other visitors.

"It's not a fashion show that morning," Deeley said. "Dress like you were going snowmobiling or skiing or even warmer than that ... You break out the good stuff."

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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