Ep. 13 The guys behind Groundhog Day: Punxsutawney Phil’s Inner Circle

We traveled to Punxsutawney to interview A.J. Dereume and Dave Gigliotti, two of the members of Punxsutawney Phil’s Inner Circle.

by Lindsay Patross
January 28, 2020

You can watch a live stream from Gobblers Knob online at groundhog.org.



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Meet the guys behind the groundhog. In this episode of The Slaw: Staying on top of Pittsburgh, we talk with A.J. Dereume and Dave Gigliotti, who are members of Punxsutawney Phil’s inner circle. We talk about the history of Groundhog Day and what to know if you are planning to go to Punxsutawney to celebrate with Phil. For this week’s collaboration, we take a look at the partnership between Reed & Co and Espresso a Mano.

Intro music: “Talkin to a Groundhog” by The Beagle Brothers

What is Groundhog Day?

The Groundhog Day celebration takes place on February 2 every year. The celebration takes place in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania, located about two hours from Pittsburgh. Each year, the groundhog emerges from his lair and predicts how long winter will last. Punxsutawney Phil has been making weather predictions since 1886.

Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania & Gobbler’s Knob

Punxsutawney is a small borough located about two hours northeast of Pittsburgh. The town has a population of about 5,000 people, but for Groundhog Day, depending on the weather, the town welcomes 10,000+ guests to witness Phil’s predictions.

Gobblers Knob is the spot in Punxsutawney where the Groundhog Day celebration is held each year.

How old is Punxsutawney Phil?

Interested in learning how Phil keeps going at 134+ years? Tune into the podcast at 19:34.

The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club & The Inner Circle

The Inner Circle is a group of 15 men who are responsible for Punxsutawney Phil year-round and the celebrations on Groundhog Day. The Inner Circle also hosts other events throughout the year including the Groundhog Ball & Groundhog Banquet.

The Groundhog Club has chapters across the country including Key West, Florida and Mountain View, California.

Join the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club

Anyone can join the Groundhog Club. Membership is $15 a year. Groundhog Club members get access to a reception the night before Groundhog Day.

Know before you go: Pro tips for visiting Punxsutawney for Groundhog Day

  • Go early – it takes time to park and get over to Gobblers Knob
  • Dress warmly
  • There are events all day on February 1 and through the night to February 2. You can see the entire schedule of events here.
  • Hotels sell out a year in advance. Book your hotel room now for next year.

Elixir of Life Ceremony and Groundhog Summer Picnic

If standing outside in February isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other opportunities to celebrate with Punxsutawney Phil. Every September, the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club hosts the “Elixir of Life Ceremony” and a summer picnic.

Check the Groundhog Club website for details on the Elixir of Life Ceremony and the Groundhog Summer Picnic.

The care (and travel) of Punxsutawney Phil

Like the Pope, Punxsutawney Phil and The Inner Circle have special vehicles for transportation to events.

The Phil Carrier is a clear tube that allows a 360-degree view of Phil. Punxsutawney Phil and the Inner Circle travel to events in the Phil Mobile.

Visiting Punxsutawney? Places to eat & drink

A few of the places to eat and drink mentioned in this episode:

Phantastic Phils

The Phantastic Phils are a project by the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce. These fiberglass groundhog statues are located around Punxsutawney. Each statue is decorated by an artist and sponsored by a local business.

Punxsutawney Phil’s Libations

Punxsutawney Phil has collaborated with some local businesses to create some groundhog-themed beverages.

Follow Punxsutawney Phil online

Groundhog Day Hashtags:

  • #GHD2020
  • #GroundhogDay

A very Pittsburgh Collaboration: Reed & Co @ Espresso A Mano

Reed & Co is a smoothie bar on Butler Street that offers lots of healthy grab & go options. You can now pick up snacks from Reed & Co at Espresso a Mano, also located on Butler Street in Lawrenceville.

Events: Golden Girls Trivia @ 5801

UPDATE: Golden Girls Trivia is sold out! 

Trivia Jockeys is hosting a Golden Girls themed trivia night at 5801 Video Lounge & Cafe in Shadyside.

Tickets: $5 per person or $20 for a team of 5 people.

  • Date: Monday, February 17, 2020
  • Time: 8 pm – 10 pm
  • Location: 5801 Video Lounge & Cafe, 5801 Ellsworth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Ready for more of The Slaw?

If you like this episode, you might be interested in one of these episodes too.

You can see all of the previous episodes of The Slaw here.

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Pittsburgh born and raised, Lindsay has been writing about the people who love Pittsburgh since 2008.

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