Phil statue.

Security Heightened For Coming Groundhog Day Celebration

Maybe it's because America's new Homeland Security chief, Tom Ridge, was formerly the Governor of Pennsylvania. Or maybe it's because a foul-up in the Groundhog Day shadow-seeing process could mean six more weeks of bad weather and, ergo, six more weeks of dependence upon foreign oil.

But for whatever the reason, the AP this week reported that the Pennsylvania State Police, backed by the National Guard, will be on heightened alert in Punxsutawney, PA this Feburary 2nd, when 30,000 people will gather to see if the country's most famous (but not only) weather-forecasting groundhog, Punsxutawney Phil, sees his shadow.

State Police spokesman Jamie LeVeir refused to disclose how many troopers would be there. But according to reports, the perimeter around Gobbler's Knob will be protected by a bomb-sniffing dog along with extra troopers and soldiers. As people board shuttle buses, backpacks and bags will be searched for weapons and alcohol. Since al-Qaida members do not drink alcohol, people found with alcohol in their backpacks will be permitted to make the pilgrimage (sans booze). Groundhog Day organizers have banned drinking on the Knob since 1996.

However, The Punxsutawney Borough Council voted to allow a charity to serve beer downtown during the festivities, despite concerns about encouraging drinking and rowdy behavior. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will put up a tent large enough to fit 1,200 people and charge $10 admission.

[01/20/2002]
Address:
Woodland Ave., Punxsutawney, PA
Directions:
Southeast of town. Take Hwy 36 a quarter mile east of US 119, then turn right (south) on Woodland Ave. Drive for one mile. The road bends sharply to the left, then to the right. Gobblers Knob will be on the east side of the road, at the crest of the hill. Drive into the parking lot; the Knob will be on the right, in a little wooded hollow.
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