Archive for Wednesday, February 9, 2000

Move over, Punxsutawney Phil

February 9, 2000

Residents of Leavenworth County and the entire KBEQ listening audience will know in another five weeks whether Dr. Philip Stevens should quit his day job.

Stevens, affectionately known to KBEQ listeners for the past three Groundhog Days as "Tonganoxie Phil," saw his shadow last Wednesday.

As the longtime Tonganoxie physician told KBEQ's "Moose" about 8 a.m. Wednesday: "Oh, I've got a shadow here about 10 feet long, and we're in for six weeks of bad weather."

Like his Pennsylvania counterpart Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog Tonganoxie Phil is predicting another six weeks of winter.

While thousands turned out in Punxsutawney, Pa., to cheer on that town's famous Phil, Stevens was alone last Wednesday morning on Fourth Street during his third try at forecasting spring's arrival.

"Fifty percent of the time, I'm right," Stevens said later. "In baseball, .50's pretty good, but in weather forecasting, that's not so good."

For Stevens, the annual Groundhog Day radio interview is a chance for a little levity.

"It was fun," he said. "I'm a little apprehensive about it each time. I try not to make too big a fool out of myself."

Moose of KBEQ actually is Andrew Shilling who lived in Tonganoxie until he was 11. He is the son of Liz Hendrix, Lawrence, and Gary Shilling, San Diego.

"He said he remembers the last time he was in my office, when he was 11, for a wasp sting," Stevens said.

The Groundhog Day tradition is based on a German superstition that an animal casting its shadow on Feb. 2 the Christian holiday of Candlemas means another six weeks of winter is coming. Otherwise, it suggests an early spring.

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