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Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, predicts early spring

PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 02:Handler AJ Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil after he did not see his shadow predicting an early spring  during the 133rd annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2019 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A crowd of upwards of 30,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground.   (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 02:Handler AJ Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil after he did not see his shadow predicting an early spring during the 133rd annual Groundhog Day festivities on February 2, 2019 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States and Canada. A crowd of upwards of 30,000 people spent a night of revelry awaiting the sunrise and the groundhog's exit from his winter den. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his den. Early spring arrives if he does not see his shadow, causing Phil to remain above ground. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images) (2019 Getty Images)


PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog on Sunday declared: “Spring will be early, it’s a certainty.”

At sunrise on Groundhog Day, members of Punxsutawney Phil's top hat-wearing inner circle revealed the cuddly oracle's prediction — his 134th "prognostication," according to the Pennsylvania Tourism Office.

Awoken by the crowd's chants of "Phil!" the groundhog was hoisted in the air for the assembly to hail before making his decision. He then grasped the glove of a handler as a member of his inner circle announced that spring would come early this year.

The annual event has its 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, Phil’s prediction is decided ahead of time by the group on Gobbler’s Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney. That’s about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northeast of Pittsburgh.