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Punxsatawney Phil Proclaims Six More Weeks of Winter Remain

Aired February 2, 2002 - 07:19   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, it-- what is it, Gobbler's Knob, Knobbler's Gob, or whatever it is...


O'BRIEN: You know, I've always wondered, now, you, you went to school for many years, you studied meteorology, and it all comes down to this rodent in Pennsylvania.

JERAS: I know.

O'BRIEN: I mean, really, isn't it an insult? It's a slap in the face, isn't it, Jacqui?

JERAS: No, you know, it's just one of those...

O'BRIEN: You're just going to go along with the whole thing, yes.

JERAS: ... things, I'll just -- it's a fun thing...

O'BRIEN: All right.

JERAS: ... you know, if you really believe the groundhog comes out, if he doesn't see his shadow, six weeks of spring, no, you know...

O'BRIEN: You probably still believe in Santa...

JERAS: ... probably not going to happen.

O'BRIEN: ... and some other things too, so.

JERAS: That's right, it's always fun to believe.

O'BRIEN: All right. So let's let it rip, then.

JERAS: All right.

O'BRIEN: Suspend disbelief, folks.

JERAS: Let's go ahead, yes.

O'BRIEN: It's Groundhog Day. JERAS: Yes, and we are getting ready in Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania, at this hour, waiting for Punxsatawney Phil to come out and see his shadow.

And that's where our own Elaine Quijano is this morning with all of the buzz. Elaine, how are you?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Jackie, happy Groundhog Day from Gobbler's Knob in the hills of western Pennsylvania.

And you know what? There is no trash talking with Punxsatawney Phil here.

Listen to this, they are chanting his name right now. This crowd is very serious, and you better just watch out. If they do not see Phil here in the next few minutes, they're going to be very, very disappointed. There are 35,000 people at least, 35,000 people, they say, out here today. They're saying that it's a record crowd.

Strange, there's not a whole lot of media out here, but a lot more folks, because this is a weekend, have actually traveled here to Gobbler's Knob for this big event.

Now, what's going on down on the stage behind me, members of the Inner Circle, those are Punxsatawney Phil's closest friends. Now, they are basically announcing what's going to happen. His burrow you see there is up on the stage. Some pretty plush digs we're here-- we're told. There's a heating pad inside, a nice little heating lamp that they put in there and try to dry out that little burrow for him so that when he comes out, you know, he's not going to be upset about anything.

The way this is going to work, he's going to come out, and they are going to listen to his proclamation, which is made, I'm told, in Groundhogese. That's the language. Only, only the president of the Inner Circle is going to be able to translate that. And right now they are introducing Bill Dealey, who is the handler for Phil. Any time that you see a picture where Phil is being held up with a man with a top hat and tails, that's Bill Dealey that you see there.

They are going around...

JERAS: Hey, Elaine...

QUIJANO: ... and making the introductions.

Yes, Jackie.

JERAS: While we're waiting for Phil to come out, how are the skies looking? Do we have any clouds around? Is it bright and sunny?

QUIJANO: No, it's somewhat cloudy. But I can tell you, last year at this time, it was snowing out here, and somehow he still managed to see his shadow. I don't know how that happened, but I can tell you right now, we still see the sun is starting to come up. I'm not sure what they're going to actually come up with, because last year, like I say, I don't know how, I never saw the sun, I was out here, never saw the sun the whole morning that I was out here. And he managed to see his shadow. So we'll just have to wait and see.

JERAS: You know, I think historically, Phil has seen his shadow, like, 90 percent of the time. Do you know, is that right?

QUIJANO: Yes, you know, but the problem is, and if you ask the locals, they will tell you that his accuracy rate is only about 39 percent. And a mathematician that I talked to actually a couple days ago said, so basically what you want to do is take whatever Phil says and believe the opposite. And then you'll be in good shape, they say.

Sounds like they're getting ready.

JERAS: Miles O'Brien up here thinks that it has to do with the TV lights.

O'BRIEN: Here's my theory. It's got-- and yes, with all the lights thrown on him, of course he's going to see his shadow. You know, we've put in an artificial sun there, right?

QUIJANO: Well, that's true, because you know what, there is this stage with a whole a bunch of lights that they've got. Sounds like they're getting ready, actually, for the big event.

O'BRIEN: Oh, boy, I've got goose bumps now.

JERAS: All right.

QUIJANO: Let's take a listen here, let's take a listen.

O'BRIEN: Oh, boy.

QUIJANO: Here he comes.

O'BRIEN: Stay with us for this, folks.

QUIJANO: I know, we're -- try and contain your excitement there, Miles. Here he comes.

JERAS: Here he comes, knocking on the door.

QUIJANO: Knocking on the door.

O'BRIEN: Geez, don't hurt him.

QUIJANO: I tell you, he's got some nice digs. He does -- he probably won't want to come out.

O'BRIEN: That's kind of like a groundhog condo.

JERAS: It's cold this morning, would you want to come out?

QUIJANO: OK, there he is.

O'BRIEN: Oh, yeah.

QUIJANO: There he is, and the crowd goes wild.

O'BRIEN: Come on, he's still asleep for gosh sakes, he's not seeing anything.

QUIJANO: You know, you just don't understand. You obviously don't understand.

JERAS: He's kind of cute, you got to admit.

QUIJANO: All these people are here for a reason. He is cute, he is cute. I've actually got my own Phil -- version of Phil right here.

O'BRIEN: All right, so I've seen this a million times. Did he see his shadow or not? How do we know?

JERAS: Yes, how do we know?

QUIJANO: Well, this is what I was trying to explain. Basically he's going to talk to Bill Cooper, the president of the Groundhog Club in Groundhogese.

JERAS: Groundhogese.

QUIJANO: And he's going to translate that for the rest of us...

O'BRIEN: I see.

QUIJANO: ... who are ignorant and don't understand.

JERAS: Didn't learn that in meteorology school.

O'BRIEN: No, no, no.

QUIJANO: So let's...

JERAS: Groundhogese.

O'BRIEN: Well, it's in the class after Pig Latin, you take Groundhogese, I think, right?

QUIJANO: Well, I tell you, I've learned so much about Phil. Did you know there's only been one Phil for the 100-and-some years they've been doing this? Because apparently there's a secret punch recipe that Phil drinks every year.

I'm just reporting what I've been told.

JERAS: Can you hook me up with some of that punch?

QUIJANO: I know, you know, he -- it's a secret, I'm sure they could make a lot of money off of that.

O'BRIEN: Wait a minute, you have suddenly explained this entire event to me. There's a secret punch everybody's drinking up there, that's it.

QUIJANO: It's a secret punch...

O'BRIEN: Wait a minute, oh, I think...

QUIJANO: ... and it gives him seven years of life every time he drinks that.

O'BRIEN: All right, all right, we're going to get the announcement? I think they just huddled with him.

QUIJANO: Well, they're going to be reading the proclamation soon, I promise you. That is the procedure, and you can see there, looks like they're holding up the proclamation. And any minute we are going to find out if we are in for another six weeks of winter. So...

O'BRIEN: All right. Oh, boy.

QUIJANO: ... keep your fingers crossed.

O'BRIEN: Here we go.

QUIJANO: I am seeing the sun, so stand by, here we go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. On top of Gobbler's Knob this moment this Groundhog Day, 02/02/02, Punxsatawney Phil, king of the groundhogs, seer of seers, pauses before the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) has eagerly responded to Groundhog Club President Bill Cooper's summons. He was greeted by his friend and handler, Bill D. Lee (ph), who held him high so he could greet the crowd of faithful followers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill placed Phil atop his regal stump. He (UNINTELLIGIBLE) seriously spoke with President Bill in Groundhogese, directing him to select the appropriate scroll, which reads: "Thank God I live in the land of the free and the brave..."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... "and I live in a burrow and not in a cave. I've been sleeping, been nodding, been living better than bin Laden."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "I only come out to eat and have fun. My Groundhog Day job is to study the sun. The sky is light, the signal is strong; my shadow I see, so winter will be six more weeks long."

QUIJANO: There you have it: six more weeks of winter. But you know what? Really doesn't matter. I am still very much a Phil fan, I have to say. I know you all think that this is such a strange phenomenon, but when you're here, you really have to be here to experience what this is all about. O'BRIEN: Oh, no. Oh, no.

QUIJANO: I have to say -- I have to say, you have to get into the spirit. How can you take this seriously? Only in America could you have a holiday like this.

O'BRIEN: All right. We certainly...

JERAS: It's casting a little shadow on Elaine. Had to...

O'BRIEN: If there's any shred of seriousness, it's gone now, Elaine, that's for sure.

JERAS: All right.

QUIJANO: Well, that's the latest from Gobbler's Knob, six more weeks of winter. Back to you guys.

O'BRIEN: All right, easy on the punch, now.

JERAS: Thanks, Elaine.


JERAS: There you have it.

O'BRIEN: You saw it here live on CNN.

JERAS: You know, you knew it had to be winter, though...


JERAS: ... after the spring-like conditions we've had for so long in the Northeast.


JERAS: You know, winter is back.

O'BRIEN: All right.




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