February 3, 2006 in Nation/World

It’s still winter, according to Phil

Dan Nephin Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Punxsutawney Phil, the weather predicting groundhog, is held by his handler Bill Deeley in front of an announced crowd of 14,000 in Punxsutawney, Pa., on Thursday
(Full-size photo)

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. – Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, but it was hard to find a complainer in the crowd on Gobbler’s Knob, where the morning temperature was well above freezing and Thursday’s high was expected to hit 48 degrees.

There were a few boos at the groundhog’s prediction of six more weeks of winter, but most of the revelers instead turned the event into an impromptu Pittsburgh Steelers rally.

Fans in football jerseys sang “Here we go Steelers,” and members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle – the top-hat- and tuxedo-wearing businessmen responsible for carrying on the groundhog tradition each year – threw black and gold Steelers “Terrible Towels” as they waited to rouse Phil from his burrow.

The furry forecaster may be popular, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

“It’s been really wonderful. This is just a ball. I’m having so much fun,” said Nancy Durr, who came from Paxton, Neb., to the small western Pennsylvania town about 65 miles north of Pittsburgh to celebrate her 50th birthday.

She had been outside awaiting Phil’s arrival since about 2:15 a.m., a rub-on Punxsutawney Phil tattoo on each cheek.

According to the Groundhog Club, Phil has seen his shadow 96 times, hasn’t seen it 14 times and there are no records for nine years. The last time Phil failed to see his shadow was in 1999.

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