Mr. Travis has close ties to famous groundhog


Travis family archives

Mr. Travis’s father-in-law, Mr. Dunkel, president of the Groundhog Club, is seen here last February when he was then vice-president reading Phil’s prognostication.

Did Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow this year? 

In case you missed it on Feb. 2, crowds gathered large, and the world awaited the prediction from the iconic woodchuck, Punxsutawney Phil, in hopes of a more prolonged winter or an early spring.

He did in fact see his shadow. His prediction is six more weeks of winter for us. 

The history of Groundhog Day dates back to the 1800s. In the middle ages, the badger would come out from hibernation. Feb. 2 also has significance to Christians, because of Candlemas.

The fun, lighthearted holiday is mainly celebrated in Punxsutawney, Pa., a small town in the western part of Pennsylvania. Although most citizens of Punxsutawney believe Phil is the ultimate weatherman, his predictions are only proven accurate 40% of the time.

Mr. Travis, a teacher here at BPHS, is an avid Groundhog Day celebrater. The holiday for him has an extraordinary meaning.

His father-in-law is Tom Dunkel, president of the Groundhog Club. He can be seen in the following clip knocking on Punxsutawney Phil’s door with the cane that has been passed down from previous presidents of the Groundhog Club.

Ever since Mr. Travis married into Tom Dunkel’s family, he has found a liking for the lighthearted February day.

Mr. Travis poses with his family in Punxsutawney, Pa. His father-in-law, Mr. Dunkel, is on the far left holding Mr. Travis’s son. (Travis family archives)

“I guess it’s important to me because it’s been going on since the 1800s, and I had never thought much about it, but when I met my wife and her family and they were all into it, I became interested.  I think it’s very cool that a tiny, tiny town has become world famous for this funny reason,” Mr. Travis said when asked why the holiday is important to him.

“It’s a very random holiday,” Mr. Travis continued. “We’re celebrating a groundhog who can predict the weather.  Maybe it’s just an excuse to look forward to something in the middle of the bleak, cold winter.” 

If Groundhog Day happens to be on the weekend, occasionally, Mr. Travis and his family will be invited to the Groundhog ball, which is a dress-up dinner. This takes place a few nights before the holiday itself. 

However, Travis said, “The night before, we hang out with my father-in-law and some of his Inner Circle buddies.”

The fun day was a blast for all who participated.