This post has been updated.
In case Punxsutawney Phil’s word wasn’t quite good enough, we now have confirmation from his D.C. brother: Six more weeks of winter.
Potomac Phil, the taxidermied critter who made his debut at the District’s inaugural Groundhog Day celebration Thursday morning, saw his shadow about 8:40 a.m. in Dupont Circle.
His divination came more than an hour after Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania.
Despite the prediction, there was no sign of wintry weather as five dozen or so revelers gathered at the fountain in Dupont Circle.
Drawn in by the sound of pre-recorded polka music and the promise of free, groundhog-shaped cookies, adults and children alike danced, posed for pictures and even played with a groundhog puppet.
Before Potomac Phil’s prediction was revealed, the so-called “groundhog committee” led the group in a prayer.
“Today we are in need of knowing of your seasons,” Rabbi Ozer-Bass implored to God.
“Though [Potomac Phil] walks through the valley of shadows, let light endure in him, and in us.”
This was D.C.’s first year hosting a Groundhog Day celebration, the brainchild of one of the committee members, Aaron DeNu.
He came up with the idea about a month ago, and even though he got permission from the city’s fisheries and wildlife division, he failed to find a live groundhog for the event.
One woman commented that she was “more comfortable” with the puppet than the dead, stuffed groundhog provided by the vintage store Miss Pixie’s.
But overall, the general atmosphere at Dupont Circle was one of acceptance.
Representatives from the animal rights group PETA, in particular, were glad to see a humane event. One, dressed up as a raccoon, carried a sign encouraging people to select props like crystals balls instead of live animals.
Though Potomac Phil didn’t get to make the first call on winter, he did offer a bonus prediction, according to the groundhog committee: “Nine more months of gridlock in Congress.”