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We’re republishing this post from last year because this Sunday is Groundhog Day! And Gobbler’s Knob is the best name of any place ever. -ed. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Groundhog Day the movie, and the 123rd year that the residents of the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania have gathered on Gobbler’s Knob to celebrate the holiday. To join in the fun, a few of the BYGays and their friends decided to make the trek. phil1 You’re most likely familiar with the story. A groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil hibernates all winter in a tree stump. On each February 2nd a group of men in tuxedos and top hats awaken him from his slumber and hold him up for adoring fans as they wait to see if he will-or-will-not see his shadow upon that morning. If he doesn’t see his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he does, then spring is on its way. That story has been captured on numerous news broadcasts, in popular culture, and in the 1993 movie starring Bill Murray. Here’s what the newscasts don’t tell you. The residents of Punxsutawney don’t care whether Phil sees his shadow or not. You see, they are drunk…stinkingly drunk. You don’t see anyone openly drinking alcohol at Gobbler’s Knob – they just show up that way. Sure, there are plenty of families with kids and wholesome church folk, but there are lots of drunk people – lots – and they are surprisingly well-behaved. It seems the whole town stays up all night drinking just so they can brave the 8-degree winter weather as they wait for men in tuxedos to forcibly pull a groundhog out of a stump. And, it’s been going this way for 123 years.

beaver This very drunk man – one of thousands – brought a stuffed beaver to Gobbler’s Knob.

Another thing that they don’t tell you is that the entirety of Groundhog Day is an inside joke to Penn State kids who travel from two hours away to join the local townspeople in getting drunk. You see, all of Groundhog Day is one giant sexual innuendo to them. After all, it takes place at a location called Gobbler’s Knob. But, try as they may to make the best double-entendres, drunk college kids can’t compete with the local townspeople who unknowingly make one-after-another sexual double entendre throughout the morning. Here’s a list of just a few of the unintential double-entendres heard on Gobbler’s Knob: From the bus dispatchers managing the local school buses which shuttled visitors to Gobbler’s Knob.

“Bus 8, we need you to drop your load and get off the knob”

“Roger that dispatch. I’m trying to get on the knob, but there is a line. We’ve got a back-up of people wanting to get on the knob.”

“Buses. There is still a whole crowd of people at Walmart wanting to get on the knob. When you’re on the knob, try to get off as soon as possible so we can get these people on the knob.”

(Assumingly sassy gay-but-not-quite-out bus driver) “Oh, I just got off!”

From the local EMS who demonstrated CPR techniques to the crowd to the tune of the Bee Gee’s Staying Alive

EMS: “Ok, everyone. If someone needs help when they are on the knob, what are you going to do? You’re going to push faster, push harder!” Crowd: “Push Faster! Push Harder! Push Faster! Push Harder!” EMS: “You got it!”

From the enthusiastic Ned Reyerson’s on Gobbler’s Knob

“I love seeing the expressions of joy on everyone’s face when they are on the knob.”

“I’m glad they gave a CPR demonstration in case someone has a heart attack in this cold. But, what should we do if someone chokes on the knob?”

The whole thing is more simple than sophomoric. Even the drunks don’t cause trouble. Everyone is very respective of Punxsutawney Phil and treat him like a rock star. And, Phil has his uber-fans. More than one person comes waving signs and dressed up for the occasion.










b26 Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney is not like what you see on the news, or saw in the 1993 movie, or could even imagine. It is much better than that. We kept saying that we “went for the Americana, and stayed for the irony,” but even that isn’t an apt description. Even as a casual visitor to Punxsutawney, you get swept up in the pride of the tradition. Everyone is happy. Everyone. There is not one grumpy individual in this small, Pennsylvania town on February 2nd.

“When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the of warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.” – Bill Murray, Groundhog Day

We went in search of a piece of irony, a bit of kitsch, a measure of camp. But, as hard as we tried we got none of those things in Punxsutawney. Instead, we only found sincerity and a joyful spirit of a town that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Talking whiskey over breakfast with a drunk elderly woman at the Elks Lodge, we realized how ridiculous the whole thing is. That’s what makes it great. Punxsutawney is extremely serious about Groundhog Day, but they do the whole thing with a sly smile. There are well-behaved drunk crowds, over-the-top decorations, hundreds of people in costumes, a live groundhog, men in top hats, and an ancient tradition. Even if you wanted to mock the whole thing, you can’t. The townspeople go out of their way to make strangers feel like they are as much a part of the tradition as the groundhog who they say has lived for more than 123 years. It really is quite wonderful and perhaps one of our better American traditions. On Groundhog Day, everything in Punxsutawney is laughable, but nothing can be found that can be made fun of.






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