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Groundhog Day 2011 Is Tomorrow: Punxsutawney Phil Gets His Day To Shine

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Congratulations my fellow Pennsylvanians. We have survived yet another brutal January.

Now, February has arrived and it's time for Groundhog Day 2011 tomorrow - the day of judgement when Punxsutawney Phil will let us know if we will have 6 more weeks of winter or not. If you are sick of this winter and the constant A.M. snowstorms then pray for cloudiness tomorrow in Punxsutawney, PA. Tomorrow is the only day all year in the entire world when a groundhog is the most famous celebrity of the day.

The town of Punxsutawney has been bumping in preparation for the biggest star of tomorrow - none other than Pennsylvania's "most famous" Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil.

Thousands of people will make the voyage across Pennsylvania (and beyond) to this small town nestled way out in the middle of nowhere near Route 119.

If you're reading this article now and thinking about heading out there, it's probably too late. The town is already swamped with people who made their hotel reservations months ago. My mother went on a trip out there last year and had a blast. But, you must make your plans months in advance. Now, there's even a cellphone APP which counts down to the moment of truth on Groundhog Day when Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his hole.

Just how did Groundhog Day come to become such a huge celebration? It has surely gained traction over the years and is becoming more and more popular each year. The 1993 film "Groundhog Day" (starring Bill Murray and directed by Harold Ramis) certainly helped it become more popular.

While it's not on the level of the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Scranton, PA - it is a big deal. Groundhog Day, began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 1700s and has origins in ancient European weather lore where a badger or bear was the sacred prognosticator.

What can we expect Puxutawney Phil's answer to be tomorrow? Well since 2008, he has predicted a long winter. However, in the Southeastern PA region, we were treated to a very warm March. Maybe it's not a bad thing if Phil predicts another long winter. He might just jinx us if he predicts an early spring.

According to Weather.com, Punxutawney's weather will be quite nasty tomorrow with sleet and freezing rain, like most of the rest of Pennsylvania. So, expect Phil to predict an early spring for the first time since 2007.

If you're like me and have to make the drive down 422 every morning, then an early spring would be like Christmas and a birthday rolled into one.

Contact Dennis Bakay at dbakay@philly2philly.com