It took us 6-1/2 hours to get to Brookville where our hotel was. Hotels in and around Punxsutawney have been sold out since last March!!!! We were lucky to get two rooms (and they were smoking rooms). The cast of characters on this trip included my husband and me, my brother Chris, his wife and two daughters. I forgot my camera so had to rely on others.....
We got to the hotel and went out for dinner and then for Febreeze....it was really bad in that room!!!
In the hotel rooms was a ton of Groundhog information - there was so much going on downtown........ weddings,
We went to bed early because we knew that 3:30 am was the designated wake up time! Brookville is 20 miles north of Punxsutawney (and that was the absolute closest hotel we could get). Our hotel was filled with Groundhog Day people and the hotel started the continental breakfast at 4:00 am!! Nice hotel! Coffee was desperately needed! We left the hotel at 4:15 and arrived in Punxsutawney at 4:45, but we got a little lost and ended up at Walmart around 5:00. There are designated large parking lots all over town and Walmart is the closest to Gobblers Knob. We found the ticket booths and bought our tickets for the Knob ($5.00 a person). They run constant school buses from the designated parking lots up to the Knob, starting at 3:00 am through 7:00 am. We got in our bus and headed up the hill. (You can walk up the hill but it is literally straight up for 1-1/2 miles - no thank you! Especially when it is 2 degrees! So, it is now about 5:30 and there is great music playing and the Inner Circle Men are talking to the people in the crowd. There is a huge bonfire on the left side of the stage and there are warming tents in the back. My nieces had to go to the warming tents with my sister-in-law. It was brutally cold. Because the music was really good, I danced the whole time and kept warm that way (Zumba paid off).
At about 6:15, the fireworks started for a full 25 minutes.
Then Jim Cantore came up on stage, there were a couple of people talking and then more music to get the crowd all excited.....Then the parade of Inner Circle (the men in top hats). They talk about the prognostication and then PHIL!!! And he predicted spring!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, now there are 25,000 (maybe 30,000) people trying to catch busses back downtown!!! We went to the warming tents for about 1/2 hour until they told us we had to leave! Near the warming tents was a booth for visitpa.com. We were able to get a couple of the 2013 slinkies. The man who made the slinky was from PA and they were giving special Slinkies to those who knew what to ask for. (we had heard the commercial on the radio on the way from Brookville). Hopefully, some day it will be worth something??
We also went to the information booth for Gobblers Knob and they were giving out Groundhog Day tokens below. We were lucky to get these also.....we met some pretty great people who filled us in on all the fun stuff, we would have never known about!! There weren't a lot of people who knew about these!!!
Everyone but me went in to Walmart for new socks and warmer gloves! I took off my socks and boots and warmed my toes on the heating vents in the car.....We then got into our cars and drove downtown. It is now about 9:00 in the morning and we have already been up and at it for six hours. See Part Three to follow tomorrow.