September 13, 2009

Punxsutawney Phil gets annual elixir

Punxsutawney Phil, the weather-predicting groundhog in western Pennsylvania, was honored Saturday at the annual Groundhog Club Picnic before his winter sleep.

The treats available at the picnic, held at Gobbler's Knob outside Punxsutawney, included an elixir of life his guardians believe extend Phil's years, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

This is a really big deal, said Mike Johnston, a member of the Inner Circle, the group responsible for Phil's welfare. It's not about eating and drinking and camaraderie with friends. It's all about Phil getting his elixir of life.

The Inner Circle puts Phil's age at 123 -- remarkable for a species that normally lives no longer than six or eight years.

Phil spends most of his time in an enclosure at the Punxsutawney Library. Twice this year, he managed to escape by climbing a tree and squeezing through a hole in the ceiling, scampering around in a crawl space for hours.

The groundhog traditionally emerges Feb. 2, Groundhog Day, and looks for his shadow. If he sees it, he crawls back into his hole to hibernate for another six weeks of winter.