Groundhog Day, A Look at Downtown and Where to Eat

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Winter is back with a rush and it looks like Groundhog Day is going to be one of the traditional days when 30,000 people stamp their feet for a few hours in 10-degree weather and party down with the entertainment at Gobbler’s Knob.

There is a nice hotel in Punxy at one side of the town park opposite the Groundhog Zoo. The food is OK but most students will head elsewhere. By the way, although the hotel name is Pantall, it is locally known as “The Panel.”

Looking around Punxsutawney starting (where else) at the Groundhog Zoo and bronze statue, face north and you can grab a meal at one of the fast food joints. There is a Wendy’s, and Burger King, a Chinese buffet (I think it is still there and the food used to be every bit as good as any rice you boil in a pot at home and reheat the next day).

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The back side of Grounghog Plaza facing the wrong side of the tracks and the Monkey Steps.

Back in the Punxsutawney Plaza there is also a combined KFC/Long Johns Silver. I don’t know just who it is who thought that those two made a good combination, but I did buy an LJS fish sandwich once – ONLY once.

I don’t want to tell you where to eat but the LJS sandwich was served just before noon (when everything should have been up and running for the lunch crowd). I also won’t say it was the worst sandwich I’ve ever eaten – I can say the fish was soggy, the bun was soggy, and the sauce was tasteless. Perhaps they were just having a bad day.

You have to walk past a supermarket to get to those so use your own judgment.

If you keep going just a little way, just the other side of the railroad tracks which separate downtown and the fast food concentration at Punxsutawney Plaza, from the steep hills to the north, you may run across this enigmatic sign.

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One of the town’s big attractions, the monkey steps sign.

There is no monkey. But there ARE steps, and you can climb them, at least in warm weather.

That’s about all there is to see to the north along 119 and behind the Plaza but it you go along 119 about a half mile you will find a popular local restarant Gimmick’s and a 6-pk store, both within easy walking distance.

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You’ll see the Monkey steps to the right side of the photo.

More Food

There is another Chinese place out by Wal-Mart (too far to walk from downtown) but I don’t know how the food is there – I have a policy that I never eat in a restaurant or review the food where the staff won’t even acknowledge a “good morning” not even with a nod, and won’t look you in the eye. Even with a small two year Indiana University branch college population two Chinese restaurants are probably too many for Punxy. One might be too many.

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The sign which you probably can’t read says No Winter Maintenance that means it will probably be pretty icy if you decide to see what’s at the top (not much.)

The Wal-Mart conglomeration out on RT 119 also hosts a Pizza Hut but few visitors would want to walk up that steep hill so plan on driving if you don’t find a Fox or Domino pizza to your liking downtown.

A little further out 36 to the north but still in town there is a Subway; a half mile further out 36 is the local State Store and a 6-pk store with Italian-style food. A mile further you’ll find another Phil at a local bar/pizza joint.

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Out Rt 36 north you will find a small bar and local pizza joint with Steeler Phil

Before you get that far, or even to The Subway, you’ll pass the Big Mac haven carved right into the center of town.

John McCormick is a reporter, /science/medical columnist and finance and social commentator, with 17,000+ bylined stories. He is a 38-year member of the National Press Club, retired emergency management coordinator, physicist, and member of the AAAS. He is a senior NewsBlaze writer who writes incisive, investigative stories.