PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) â€” It may be hard to believe as a large swath of the U.S. thaws out from a bitter polar vortex, but spring is coming early, according to handlers for some of the countryâ€™s most famous prognosticating groundhogs.
Just before 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Punxsutawney (puhnk-suh-TAWâ€™-nee) Phil emerged from his burrow in Pennsylvania at sunrise and didnâ€™t see his shadow. Nearly the same series of events unfolded about 300 miles (483 kilometers) to the east, where Staten Island Chuckâ€™s handlers also revealed the same prediction.
The festivities have their origin in a German legend that says if a furry rodent casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter continues. If not, spring comes early.
In reality, Philâ€™s prediction is decided ahead of time by the group on Gobblerâ€™s Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney. Thatâ€™s about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northeast of Pittsburgh.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio stopped attending Staten Islandâ€™s Groundhog Day ceremony in 2015, a year after he accidentally dropped the furry critter that died a week later.
And he wasnâ€™t the only New York City mayor who struggled with the holiday. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was bitten at a Groundhog Day ceremony in 2009.