If Punxsutawney is calling your name this weekend, here are a few things you need to know before you go.
It's a weekend full of activities. The Groundhog Day festival lasts longer than the day itself. Starting on Feb. 1, downtown Punxsutawney will be filled with magicians, artists and a petting zoo.
There's a Groundhog Banquet the night before. Held on Feb. 1 every year, the banquet is held at the Punxsutawney High School at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling 814-938-7700, ext. 3. Jeff Lundy, The Fair Weatherman will be the master of ceremonies for the event. Danny Rubin, the screenwriter of the film "Groundhog Day" will be the guest speaker. Governor Tom Corbett will also be in attendance.
There is no cost to get into Gobbler's Knob. The area opens at 3 a.m., with Phil's prognostication occurring at 7:25 a.m.
Dress warmly. There no shelter available for visitors, so dress in layers and bring plenty of blankets to wrap yourself up in.
Don't bring chairs. Thousands flock to Gobbler's Knob, which means it gets crowded. Sitting down really isn't an option if you plan on seeing anything at all.
Bathrooms will be on the scene. At least, Port-a-Potties will be. There are also woods for those feeling more adventurous.
Plan to take a bus or walk to the Knob. Only handicapped persons can park at Gobbler's Knob. Everyone else must either walk (it's a 1.5 mile uphill walk from Barclay Square in the town) or take a shuttle bus which will start making rounds at 3 a.m. The busses will pick up people from the local McDonalds (102 N. Findley St.), Punxsy Plaza (545 W. Mahoning St.) and Wal-Mart (21920 Route 119). The bus costs $5 per person, those under 12 years old ride free. It is recommended that you be on the bus no later than 5 a.m.
Get there early. If you want to be up close to Phil, then your best bet is to be queued up at the gates to Gobbler's Knob before they open at 3 a.m. "We'll have 300-400 people down here at 3 a.m. when we open up the gates and they'll run to get as close as they can to the stage," said Ron Ploucha, the Stump Warden for the Groundhog Club's Inner Circle.
Don't bring booze. Gobbler's Knob is an alcohol free zone. State police will be on the scene to ensure that the no alcohol policy is enforced. For those that drink beforehand, Ploucha recommends not going overboard. "A lot of our [the society's] followers drink alcohol and they pay for it at 5 in the morning, when they're cold and they're hungry and there's no place to go," he said. "If you move, you'll lose your place."
Don't go to sleep immediately after Phil's prognostication. As tempting as it may be, Ploucha recommends only taking a brief nap on Groundhog Day - a lesson he's learned through bitter experience. Going to sleep in the afternoon messes with your sleep schedule and could mean you are wide awake at 2 a.m. the next day - which may or may not be ideal. Ploucha recommends taking a brief nap, forcing yourself up and then going back to bed at your normal bedtime.