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Groundhog Day: 5 bizarre things you don't know about this quirky tradition

Famed weather prognosticating groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. An early spring was predicted as Phil did not see his shadow.
Jason Cohn | Reuters
Famed weather prognosticating groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. An early spring was predicted as Phil did not see his shadow.

YORK, Pa. — If you tune into Groundhog Day at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., on Friday, you'll see a groundhog, men in top hats and — maybe — a shadow.

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But there are plenty of strange traditions that go on behind the scenes of the Feb. 2 tradition, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. Here are five of the most unusual:

• Punxsutawney Phil has an "inner circle." Those men in top hats aren't random. They're called the "inner circle." They're responsible for planning the events around Groundhog Day (no small feat, considering this year's events span over a week), and caring for Phil.

• Phil's predictions are 100% accurate, they say. Let's be clear, taken at face value, they're not. The predictions are actually wrong more than they're right. But the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club notes that the predictions aren't geographically specific. So if Phil "predicts" a long winter, that's probably true – somewhere in the world.

• Phil is basically immortal. It's been the same Punxsutawney Phil for all 132 years of the tradition, according to the club. That's over 15 times longer than the upper end of a groundhog's typical lifespan. That's an old groundhog.

• Club members say they make him immortal by feeding him the "groundhog punch" every year.

• Club members say Phil can communicate. They call it "Groundhogese" and say Phil communicates his predictions to the current president of the inner circle.

Want to learn more about Pennsylvania's famous tradition? The best place is right from the source: Groundhog.org, the online home of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.