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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS

Punxsutawney Phil Sees Shadow

Aired February 2, 2002 - 08:35   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to move it on now to weather.

Jacqui Jeras, upstaged this morning by a pair of rodents.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

O'BRIEN: One of them in Pennsylvania, one of them in Georgia. We still think you're the best though.

JERAS: Oh, too nice.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.

JERAS: It's fun though, you know.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it's fun.

JERAS: It gets a little attention, gets you talking about things coming up. And after record highs, you want to know is winter on the way.

Well the person with the answer this morning is Elaine Quijano and she is coming to us from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and Elaine I understand, did he see it? Did he not see it?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know he did see it. Happy Groundhog Day, first of all to you Jacqui from Gobbler's Knob, Pennsylvania.

JERAS: You too.

QUIJANO: Where Punxsutawney Phil today proclaimed that we are in for a long winter.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

QUIJANO (voice over): In front of thousands of followers, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, signaling six more weeks of winter. It's a tradition more than a century old, one Punxsutawney prepares for every year, with a host of rodent-centered rituals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the 2002 Groundhog King and Queen. QUIJANO: At Punxsutawney High School, the seniors select their royal couple to represent them at Gobbler's Knob. But it's not just the locals who go groundhog wild. Phil's fans travel from near and far for a glimpse of the so-called seer of seers, fans like South Carolinians Richard and Joanne Hudson, who came face-to-face with Phil while driving through Pennsylvania.

JOANNE HUDSON: I said to my husband, "oh my gosh, there's Punxsutawney" and he said uh-huh. I said "oh let's stop" you know, so we did.

QUIJANO: Besides the adventuresome Groundhog Day also attracts lovers. At Phil's Wedding Chapel, some choose to say "I do" this time on 02-02-02. We visited one West Virginia couple, Richard and Kim Carter, celebrated 25 years of marriage.

So what exactly is Phil's allure? Some of it is leftover publicity from the 1993 movie "Groundhog Day" shown every year at the Punxsutawney Community Center. But mostly, it's an excuse to insert a little brightness into the bleakness of winter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Groundhog Day is fun for no good reason. I think that's it. It's just fun for no good reason.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUIJANO: And back live here, you know, it really is fun for no good reason, and we are so privileged to have Punxsutawney Phil himself joining us here on CNN, and his handler Bill Healy. Bill, thanks for being here.

BILL HEALY, HANDLER FOR PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL: Thank you for having us.

QUIJANO: How is Phil doing? That was a big, big event.

HEALY: He's starting to shiver a little bit here, you know what I'm saying. He's like me. It's cold, and I think six more weeks of winter, which we're going to do much more shivering too.

QUIJANO: Do you think maybe he was just trying to get an excuse to get back in there and get more sleep for six weeks?

HEALY: Well, maybe that or he's out looking for a girlfriend. We're not quite sure. But I think six more weeks we're going to take off.

QUIJANO: But Phil is 100 and how old?

HEALY: Sixteen.

QUIJANO: One hundred and sixteen.

HEALY: One hundred and sixteen years.

QUIJANO: And you know we were talking about this earlier on CNN. He drinks a special punch, is that right?

HEALY: Typically, your average Pennsylvania groundhog lives about four to six years, and since Phil is such a special groundhog, we give him every summer a little special punch. We call it an elixir. Before every gulp he gets, he gets seven more years of longevity. And last summer, he did gulp about two or three gulps. So I think we got him around for at least 20, 21 more years, so.

QUIJANO: He's looking pretty good.

HEALY: He's looking pretty jazzy I think for 116 years old, what do you think?

QUIJANO: I think so too. Bill Healy, thank you so much. Punxsutawney Phil, thank you so much. There you have it. Unfortunately six more weeks of winter, according to the great prognosticator. We're live at Gobbler's Knob, Pennsylvania. I'm Elaine Quijano, Jacqui back to you.

JERAS: All right, thanks very much, Elaine. We heard the official word from Phil.

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