Tuesday, January 28, 2014

It’s That Time Again…What’s Happening This Groundhog Day in Louisville?

Though its American roots are in Pennsylvania, Groundhog Day is one of those quirky holidays that everyone approaches from a different angle. Whether it’s screening classic cinema, holding celebrations among aficionados, or using the event as an excuse for a very unusual office party, Louisville is full of creative ways for citizens to mark the day.

A Celebration With Roots

Originating in Europe, Groundhog Day emerged out of medieval prognostication – the practice of making weather predictions based on observation of natural phenomena. The observation of whether or not a creature who pokes his head out of his hole sees his shadow becomes a predictor, on Groundhog Day, for whether or not winter will stretch on for 6 more weeks. The first groundhog was probably a bear or a badger, though when the German settlers to Pennsylvania brought along their traditions to the New World, the groundhog became the animal to observe on February 2nd.

Nuts about Groundhogs? Join the Club

While 20,000 people flock to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on Groundhog Day to witness Phil the groundhog poking his head out of his burrow, Louisville has traditionally been able to muster a fraction of that number together to commemorate, and celebrate, the occasion. The Louisville chapter of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club is known as the "Bluegrass Chapter".

This year marks the 36th annual Groundhog Day Celebration: last year, 280 people gathered to mark the day. This year, the event won't take place as usual because, according to club leader Kevin Ryan, "we can't compete with the Super Bowl" which is also that same weekend.

A Movie to Watch, Over and Over and Over Again

Another annual Louisville Groundhog Day tradition is the screening of the classic Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day. Last year the film played at a midnight screening at Baxter Avenue Theatre. Those who attend year after year may take delight in the deja vu they experience: in the film, a Punxsutawney weatherman relives the exact same day, again and again. It's too soon to know whether the Baxter will be showing Groundhog Day again in 2014, but visit their website to find out more about their midnight screenings of other cult classics at http://apextheaters.com/baxter_home.htm.

"Marty": a Southern Punxsutawney Phil?

An informal celebration will take place at Martco, where "Marty" the groundhog has been the unofficial resident mascot for the past few seasons. The adorable little furball comes and sits on a window ledge, enjoying bananas and trail mix offered to him by staff. This year, says marketing manager Libbie Martin, "You can count on us having a big celebration around here on Groundhog Day next year...hopefully he will come out and celebrate with us; I know we will have some of his favorite trail mix ready for him." 

The rich history and lore behind Groundhog Day combined with Louisville residents' sense of fun will make Groundhog Day a great reason to get out and about. Just like the groundhog who emerges from hibernation in early February, partygoers, movie fans, and even the workers at Martco all look forward to the portent of spring that Groundhog Day brings. While Punxsutawney Phil will never be overshadowed, in Louisville, anyhow, "Marty" and his Kentucky kin are the groundhogs of repute--as are the weatherman locals who will be keeping their eyes on the prognosticating marmots this February 2.

About the Author:  Joe Hayden is the Team Owner and Manager of the Joe Hayden Real Estate Team - !

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