PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. - Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog on Sunday declared: "Spring will be early, it's a certainty."
At sunrise on Groundhog Day, members of Punxsutawney Phil's top hat-wearing inner circle revealed the cuddly oracle's prediction -- his 134th "prognostication," according to the Pennsylvania Tourism Office.
Awoken by the crowd's chants of "Phil!" the groundhog was hoisted in the air for the assembly to hail before making his decision. He then grasped the glove of a handler as a member of his inner circle announced that spring would come early this year.
PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA - FEBRUARY 2: Punxsutawney Phil the weather forecasting groundhog is presented to the crowd during the annual Groundhog Day event at Gobbler's Knob on February 2, 2004 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. As the custom goes, if Punxsutawne
The annual event has its origin in a German legend that says if a furry rodent casts a shadow on Feb. 2, winter continues. If not, spring comes early.
In reality, Phil's prediction is decided ahead of time by the group on Gobbler's Knob, a tiny hill just outside Punxsutawney. That's about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northeast of Pittsburgh.
According to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Community and Economic Development, this is the first time in Groundhog Day history that Punxsutawney Phil predicted consecutive early springs.