At our 13th annual Groundhog Day party (which was held last night), I asked the guests to prepare remarks to honor the Groundhog. My great friend Dan more than delivered. His prepared remarks are below.
Dan: you are the best!
Top Ten Phil impostors (in order of awfulness)
10. West Indies Willie. Little is known of this weather predictor, but his exotic Carribean location makes him the only famous groundhog hailing from outsidethe continental US and Canada.
9. Balzak Billy. Hailing from Balzak Alberta Canada, Billy seems to be a fun loving groundhog, happy to entertain and educate children. He seems to be a well intentioned Phil impostor, almost more of a tribute.
8. The Upstate New York Groundhogs - Holtsville Hal, Malvern Mel, and Dunkirk Dave. These groundhogs are shamefully trying to muscle in on Phil, but it seems no one takes them seriously at all. The best of the NY crowd is Staten Island Chuck, who being a more worldly, city groundhog, seems to accept his second fiddle status, pays homage to Phil and simply enjoys his day in the spotlight at Staten Island Zoo.
7.Smith Lake Jake. Hailing from Birmingham Alabama Jake has a cool rhyming name, but sadly, very little else going for him.
6. French Creek Freddie. Has only been in the weather predicting game since 1978 but is clearly trying to steal some of Phil's thunder out in West Virginia. We'll see if anyone cares about Freddie a hundred years from now. Somehow I doubt it.
5.Sir Walter Wally - from North Carolina. This cheap attempt to cash in on the name recognition of Sir Walter Raleigh may have backfired since the fans of weather predicting animals and dead English aristocrats are often not one and the same.
4. Buckeye Chuck. Chuck is the official groundhog of Ohio. Part of the regional Ohio/PA rivalry, Chuck seems a weak attempt by Ohio to steal the spotlight from their PA neighbors on Feb 2nd.
3. Wiarton Willy. This scandalous Canadian Groundhog hails from Wiarton Ontario and his weather prediction is part of the Wiarton Willy festival that also includes dances, parades and hockey tournaments. Willy's power of prediction is attributed to his living on the 45th parallel, exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. Willy was marred by scandal in 1999 when he died 2 days before Groundhog day and a replacement was unavailable. Willy was dressed in a tuxedo and presented the the crowd in a coffin. It later turned out to be a stuffed groundhog and not really Willy, but this kind of poor judgement keeps Willy from ever achieving true groundhog greatness.
2.General Beauregard Lee. "Beau" ,as he is known to his lame followers, hails from Georgia and is known publicity whore. He appeared on the today show with Willard Scott in 1988 and Willard's career was never the same. Beau's most recent publicity stunt has been to team up with :Chopper": the new groundhog mascot of the AAA Braves baseball team. Despite all this Beau is still, but a footnote in the epic history of weather predicting groundhogs.
1. Octoraro Orphie. Lives near the Octoraro river is Quarryville, PA. Has been a thorn in Phil's side since 1908. Quarryville is in Eastern PA, so there is a natural rivalry with Phil and his Western PA home. Orphie and her small band of followers claim to have a "perfect" record in predicting the weather and refer to Orphie as "the one true groundhog". Seeing as Orphie has been in the weather predicting game for over a century and no one seems to have heard of her, I feel Phil is quite safe in his position as Seer of Seers, prognosticator of all prognosticators.