Natural disasters have been a terrible thing.
Eathquakes, tsunamis, downpours, floods, landslides
Heavy snow storms, avalanches, frigid temperatures
Sleet and freezing rain,
They cause much destruction, suffering and pain.
When it seems like too much with which to cope
The coming of spring gives us new hope.
Changing seasons are a wonderful thing
Now it's Groundhog Day and we think of spring.
Will spring come early or will it come late?
It's time for me to prognosticate.
As I study the sun it is all about fun.
But I am sorry to say, I see my shadow today.
When I see my shadow, 6 more weeks of winter will come our way!
The sky was clear and the temperature was around 12 degrees. The ground was covered by snow and ice and there was a clear and sunny day forecast for the area. A large crowd for a weekday, around 18,000 people were on hand for the event which included a show and a display of fireworks. All weekend long, the town was filled with people enjoying displays and festivities. There were craft shows, art shows, ice carving, dinners, and parties. Winter had a very slow start this year. On January 1 and January 13th, it was warm enough to equal some of the days we had last summer. But then it turned cold for the last part of the month as winter really set in. Now it looks like we'll have to endure six more weeks of the cold stuff!
Groundhog Day fell on Wednesday this year, so a smaller crowd than we get on a weekend, but still, there was a large crowd on hand at Gobbler's Knob for the annual trek. People from all over the world attended the morning activities. It was nice to see so many new faces in town.
Folks who left Punxsutawney a few years ago and have not been back for 5 years or so, would be impressed by some of the changes that have taken place recently. Some new businesses, like Walmart and Advance Autoparts have moved in and several old historic buildings are gone. The entire character of the downtown section is different than it was just 10 or 20 years ago. It seems that for every one new building that is constructed, we lose two old businesses and buildings in the process! The changes in the look of the town are dramatic, but the small town character of Punxsutawney doesn't seem to have changed much. The streets are still safe at night and the people still smile and say "hello" to each other as they pass on the street. The school's enrollment is still in decline and the average age of the population gets older with every young person who grows up and leaves to find a new career. The surrounding area is still full of pleasant rural scenery and quiet woods. Deer, turkey, and bears still live in abundance, and the air is still clean and the water still sparkles.
Eckerd Drug opened a new store January 26, 2005 on the corner of Gilpin and Mahoning Streets, a site once occupied by the long standing Mahoning Hardware Store. The old hardware store building was torn down along with Deeley's Funeral Home, an old automobile dealership and the old Chamber of Commerce building. Then an all new store and large parking lot were constructed. The alley that existed between Deeley's Funeral Home and the Mahoning Hardware store was relocated so that it now intersects Gilpin street straight across from Union Street. The Gilpin and Mahoning intersection now boasts three Pharmacies: Eckerd, the Medicine Shoppe and Stewart's Pharmacy. A new building has been constructed on Mahoning Street on the site of the old Ruth and Harry's building. This fills in a gap on that side of the street. Deeley Funeral Home built a big new building up by the entrance to the hospital.
The Lutheran Church on the corner of Gilpin and Pine Streets was destroyed by fire a couple of years ago. Construction appears to be nearing completion on a new building at the same location. The new building was designed to look a lot like the old red brick building. They used the old entrance way and stained glass window from the old building. The there was a home just east of the church on Pine St. (towards Findley St.) that was torn down to make more room for the new building. Also, the old church rectory / office was torn down to make room in that direction also.
Ty Industries created a Punxsutawney Phil (groundhog) Beanie Baby for the third year in a row. The first TY Groundhog toy was sold on Wednesday June 8th at the Chamber of Commerce and was sold out in about an hour. The first ones that came out were a special edition for the Inner Circle. Only 5000 were produced. They sold them for $5 each and had a limit of 48 Beanie Babies per person. Later, people sold them on E-bay for $120 to 150 or so! There was a new edition for 2004 and now for 2005. Each looks a bit different from the previous. You can still order a Punxsutawney Phil Beanie Baby on the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce Web site, but these are not quite the same as the ones sold the first day (so they won't be as rare).
I have heard from several Punxsutawney residents who seemed to be happy to see this page on the Internet. If there are more of you out there and you have a suggestion for improving this site, please feel free to write to me with your suggestions. - Marc Weimer
You can reach me by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org