With all this Inauguration banter and excitement I almost forgot to blog about the most important holiday or event ever; no not the Inauguration, Christmas pales in comparison, Easter doesn’t even register on the scale compared to this holiday/event………GROUNDHOG’S DAY! Yes, Punxsutawney Pennsylvania is home to the most revered of events in PA (beside’s Harrisburg’s claim to the Farm Show which is glorious as well). Our time honored tradition of yanking a perfectly content, hibernating, semi-wild animal from his home holding it up (much like Simba in the “Lion King”) and declaring our next six weeks of weather patterns based on whether or not he sees his shadow takes place for the 122nd time on it’s usual cold, blustery 2nd day of February. And yes your blogger here has made the pilgrimage to the most holy of holy places on Groundhog’s Day….Gobblers Knob….the living quarters of Punxsutawney Phil (of course we named him).
The day was February 1st 2002 at about 9:30 p.m. Picture a 19 year old Sammy still fresh and vibrant during his 1st year of college out at a party with all his close, drunk Anthropology buddies. The booze are flowing freely, James Bond is being played loudly, and it’s the scene of pure merriment. It would around this time that a fellow Anthropologist approached my drunken roommate and declared that we were going to Groundhogs day and that we would be leaving at midnight so everyone had to stop drinking (Sammy was a Sober Sally and didn’t drink until his 21st). Everyone needed to sober up. Midnight rolled around and to my growing excitement 5 of us left on our adventure. At the precious hour of 3 a.m. did we arrive at a church that would shuttle us into town, mind you into town not to Gobbler’s Know…a fact we over looked.
Once in town we were greeted with a 3 mile hike to the Knob. It is bitterly cold and about a mile into the walk I begin to resent the decision my drunken friends had talked me into so many warm hours ago. In my mind I had pictured the road leading us to a clearing in the woods. The event would be a tree covered bonanza…wrong we walked three miles in a barren field, and Gobbler’s Knob was a small dense patch of woods 3 miles in. Did I mention the buses passing us by filled with revelers (drunk as well). We finally get there and we wait, wait, and wait some more…it would be something like 2 and a half, 3 hours we waited. My patience was beginning to wear thin and the cold was beginning to seep in….I feared for my toes and the potential of a frostbitten plight.
Then around 6ish the inner circle came and applauded us for coming. Declaring us the largest crowd every seen at the Knob! Moments later, with rays of the sun just beginning to peak over the landscape, the stumps doors were opened and in a flash our Marmot messiah was out (looking just as stunned cold as I was) and the inner circle was speaking to him then he was hoisted above and the declaration was given…6 more dreadful weeks of hellacious winter would be upon us.
Then in a brown, Marmot, blur our winter predicting god was back in his hole reacquainting himself with the warmth I wouldn’t see for another hour and half. Thus began the exodus back over a barren field of snow to the bus that was suppose to take us back to the church where our car was….no such luck by the time we got into town the bus was gone and we were stuck. I hate to admit it but for the first time in my life I hitchhiked. Not the safest of past times but times were desperate, plus I had 4 other people with me and a mini van picked us up….I don’t know many killers that shuttle their children back and forth in a minivan. By the time we got back to the car our toes were finally beginning to thaw and we were semi-prepared for the drive to a friend’s house to crash. Needless to say it was of the craziest, most fun, coldest, adventures I had in college…..until I crashed a Bosnian New Years Eve Party on campus with my roommates but that’s an entirely different story.
P.S. If you are the owner of these pics and want me to take them down send me a kind email and will be more than happy to oblige….just don’t sue me. I got no monies! 😉