Battle of the groundhogs begins

Phil proclaims 6 more weeks of winter!
February 2, 2009 7:41:59 AM PST
The world's most famous groundhog has seen his shadow which, legend has it, means we can expect six more weeks of winter. Punxsutawney Phil's forecast was announced in front of thousands of revelers gathered at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. They gathered under overcast skies with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark Monday morning, with many revelers buoyed by the Super Bowl victory by the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night.

German tradition holds that if a hibernating animal cast a shadow on Feb. 2 - the Christian holiday of Candlemas - winter would last another six weeks. If no shadow was seen, legend said spring would come early.

Since 1887, Phil has seen his shadow 97 times, hasn't seen it 15 times, and there are no records for nine years, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

However, Staten Island Chuck is telling Punxsutawney Phil to fugetaboutit!

New York City's Charles G. Hogg - known to friends as Chuck - begs to differ with the famous furball in Pennsylvania.

Chuck - "speaking" through New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg - saw "absolutely no shadow."

Bloomberg, noting the City Council's funding powers, said Chuck had better be right. Quipped Bloomberg: "If Chuck embarrasses us, this is going to be a very long winter for the Staten Island Zoo."

The verdict also was mixed around the New York metropolitan area. On Long Island, Holtsville Hal saw his shadow; Malverne Mel did not.

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