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Groundhog Day – Spring Break With Snow!

Punxsutawney Phil's park

It isn’t spring yet so this can’t be spring break but that doesn’t stop tens of thousands of adults and college kids from partying every February 2 in the heart of small town America.

Call it Winter Break – or just call it what we do, Groundhog Day.

Why do I think Punxsutawney is the real small town often spoken about but seemingly so hard to find?

  • Consider that the Mayor is usually to be found carrying 100 lb feed bags in the local farm/mill store. If you shake his hand you don’t walk away automatically counting your fingers, checking your wallet, and feeling just a little bit dirty for having been close to a politician. Jim still goes by his high school basketball nickname “snake.”
    Where the magic happens, the Gobbler’s Knob stage where Phil makes his yearly prediction.
    • Barkley Square, the town center park, complete with traditional bandstand and old cannon, is usually empty at night but if someone needs to get from one side of it to the other they don’t routinely detour around the park. Except on Halloween there is nothing scary hiding in the bushes.
    • The town library has a special room where a groundhog family lives.
    • Since the last theater closed down the town community center took over and shows movies.
    • In the summer there are still have pet parades and church socials right out of The Little Rascals.
    • The Comet supermarket not only has checkout clerks who know who you are, but someone carries or wheels every purchase to your car, loads up the trunk, and doesn’t hover waiting for a tip.
    • But mostly you know you are not in the places you see on TV news because can walk down the street without being accosted by or stepping over beggars.

    Of course Punxsutawney isn’t the only rural town in central Pennsylvania or other states where it is still safe to walk down the street at night or where you would actually think it a good thing to see a policeman walking toward you.

    Phil’s home by the library at one side of Barclay Sq.

    There is still a lot of small town America out here outside the cities and barren waves of suburbia. These are places where decent houses sell for $50,000 and there are often jobs just waiting for people to apply if they are willing to work hard.

    Something which will amaze many people even more than having a mayor who you can actually talk to (if he can hear you over the noise of the mill) is what happened when I hired a contractor for a big job.

    Everyone in a city knows about roofing and plumbing or heating contractors and you probably won’t believe what happens around here when you hire one.

    The owner came to give me an estimate – he was on time. When I approved it he said they’d start in two weeks and be done a week later.

    What actually happened? They showed up on time, worked through the full day, finished on time, and there were no extra charges.

    If contractors had a union they would kick him out for being honest.

    Those of you used to dealing with contractors in most cities or suburbia may now assume I am completely delusional – at the very least that I live in some sort of twilight zone.

    But I just live in the real America, the one which is still out here doing pretty well, not gambling on house prices or killing ourselves commuting on packed highways, not spending as little time as possible with our family then wondering why the kids act crazy and everyone we know is on their second or third marriage.

    Don’t believe that such places still exist outside The Andy Griffith Show? Well, Groundhog Day is coming on February 2, with several days of events (January 30- February 02) – drop by and see if just spending a day in Punxsutawney doesn’t give you a whole new view of life in America.

    Students (or adults) can crash the night before Groundhog Day for $5.

    The Groundhog Day movie runs free.

    This is the first of a short series of stories about this year’s Groundhog festivities and especially how things are still happening out in middle America.

    Despite the doom and gloom, many parts of America outside cities and suburbia still work and politicians don’t lie just because it is easier.

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