This Groundhog Day will not be at all like the others.
As far back as 1900, The New York Times was already referring to this annual “hoary superstition” as a tradition.
Like clockwork, the event draws the curious and worldwide attention. Will a portly groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow? The feeling that this may never change was accelerated by a popular 1993 movie starring Bill Murray as a weatherman who is “inexplicably living the same day over and over again” as he covered the annual festivity in Punxsutawney, a bucolic borough in western Pennsylvania about 300 miles west of Midtown Manhattan.
Change does not come easy to this part of the world. Until, that was, the coronavirus pandemic.
The event will proceed on Tuesday in Punxsatawney, but it will be held virtually. The organizers of the event, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, said in a recorded message that “No in-person attendance or guests will be allowed on the ground.”
As for the massive snowstorm burying parts of the Northeast, organizers are, for now, forging ahead. Gobbler’s Knob, the groundhog’s home turf, will be closed on Monday at 5 p.m. but will reopen on Tuesday by 9 a.m. The livestream will begin that day at 6:30 a.m.
That dispatch was, itself, a hybrid of modernity and antiquity. It was posted on Instagram. But the words were printed on a sign, held by a man.