For the fourth year in a row, I had been asked to conduct the celebration of Groundhog Day by coaxing Punxsutawney Phil, the beloved and furry weather prognosticator, out of his den. Last year, Phil rightly predicted six more weeks of winter. Phil’s predictions, I am proud to announce, have been correct every year.
February 2nd was fast approaching and for the entire week prior to Groundhog Day, I checked on Phil daily, making sure he was comfortable by peeping into his den. Each day I found him sleeping seemingly with a smile on his face that is every day except Sunday, February 1st. That day he was nowhere to be found. I looked deep into his den shining my flashlight into every nook and corner, but Punxsutawney Phil’s den was empty.
I panicked, asking myself, ‘where could Phil be? Had he been kidnapped, or is the word hognapped?’ Then I said to myself ‘this is no time to be joking. You have to find Phil by early tomorrow morning or Groundhog Day will be a disaster.’
I knew other furry rodents who make their predictions were jealous of Phil. I thought, could Punxsutawney Phil have been kidnapped by General Lee of Atlanta; Staten Island Chuck of New York City; or Potomac Phil, a stuffed Groundhog out of Washington, Could the FBI be implicated? Could President Obama or congress be involved? I said to myself, ‘I’ll call Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania’s Senator Joe Scarnati and ask for his help. He was at last year’s celebration so I think he’ll help me.’
I called his office in D.C. and was told by one of his secretaries that he was home in Punxsutawney. I called his home and thankfully he answered the phone. I told him my problem and my suspicions for which he laughed hysterically, but when he realized I was almost crying, he said, “I’ll be at your house in fifteen minutes.” When he arrived sirens were blaring as he was being escorted by Punxsutawney’s chief of police, and by the county sheriff. Close on their tail was half the population of Punxsutawney. Soon a police helicopter was circling overhead and television news reporters and their satellite news trucks were everywhere.
I drove Senator Scarnati out to Punxsutawney Phil’s den. We were followed by several news crews, and by now, over a hundred town folk, and at least two dozen law enforcement officers.
As the senator and I got out of my car, the police helicopter landed and the police chief and sheriff, surrounded by all the news media, and town folk, came running up to us, and all shouting at once, “Senator Scarnita, what is wrong? Is it terrorists? Are you in danger? Are we in danger?” Before Senator Scarnita could answer, one reporter asked, “Has President Obama been notified?” Someone hearing that question shouted, “It’s another 9/11.” That statement caused fright and people began heading home to their families. It was Sunday and soon church bells were ringing. New crews were busily sending stories to their newspapers and to radio and TV news stations across the nation.
Senator Scarnita began waving his arms trying to get people’s attention. Finally, the sheriff fired his gun into the air and Senator Scarnita then explained that it was all a misunderstanding. Punxsutawney Phil is missing. We just came out to check his den again. As you know, tomorrow is Groundhog Day and if Phil sees his shadow, we will have six more weeks of winter.
The next morning, I went out early to check for Phil one last time, and to my surprise Punxsutawney Phil was in his den. A few people were there and at 7:35 a.m. in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Phil came out of his den and saw his shadow portending six more weeks of winter.
President Obama called Senator Scarnita, and laughingly asked him about the prognoses for the next six weeks. Senator Scarnita said, “I’m glad it will be awhile before I face re-election.