The American tradition of Groundhog Day was marred today by an ugly incident in which the world's most celebrated groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, was captured by a family of hillbillies, skinned, roasted and eaten as spectators looked on in horror. "To say nothing like this has ever happened before is an understatement," said Punxsutawney Mayor James Wehrle.
What does this mean? We asked Bill Cooper, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. "The best we can tell, Groundhog Day is rooted in a German superstition that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow Feb. 2, which is the Christian holiday of Candlemas, winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow is seen, legend says spring will come early. The question is, what happens if the groundhog is deprived of seeing his shadow at all? Clearly there was a shadow, but Phil did not see it, so we're stuck in the middle on this one. According to superstition, if the hibernating animal is removed from it's surroundings before it can have the opportunity to be scared by its shadow, then winter shall wait in limbo until the normal order is restored," Cooper explained. "Here we have a situation wherein it would be impossible for the normal order to be restored, because Phil is dead. This means that winter will never end. In other words, we're screwed."
Locals were familiar with groundhog killer Ewalt Miller and his clan, but no one had expected the speed or agility with which he swooped out of his hiding place and grabbed Phil. Onlookers were stunned, and failed to act to stop this massacre, some out of fear, but others because they thought it was all part of the act. One eyewitness had this to say, "
we all just thought it was part of the show, I mean, people have been camping out here all night, what, just to see a rodent come out of a hole? I think most people expected somewhat of a show, and we figured that maybe this was all part of the festivities. A couple people even told me they had been told earlier that the celebration ended with a free meal of groundhog for anyone who came to the show. I thought they were on drugs, but when I saw that hick skinning that poor little guy, I figured those folks must have known what they were talking about."
The only resistance came from a group of Amish who took a break from their barn raising, when they chased after the Millers with some loose plank board, intending to pummel them about the head in an attempt to rescue Phil, but by the time the Amish reached the Millers, Phil was already dead, so they gave up their quest. In the words of one of the Amish men who was part of the uprising, "we are a non-violent people, who would have only pummeled those hillbillies about the head with plank board would it have been able to save Phil's life. Sadly, we were too late, and stopped before striking a blow as anything further would have been an act of vengeance, which is not the way of the Amish."