Chambersburg mayor’s quip miffs Punxsutawney

CHAMBERSBURG — The commentary that launched Chambersburg’s IceFest last week has folks in Punxsutawney thinking an apology is in order.

Chambersburg Mayor Pete Lagiovane cast an unfavorable light over the city internationally famous for Groundhog Day during Thursday’s opening ceremonies for IceFest.

On Monday, after Punxsutawney’s Groundhog Club called Public Opinion about the slur and suggested the mayor apologize, Lagiovane said he stood by his “mangy rodent” comment.

This is what Lagiovane said Thursday: “I’m just proud of the fact that we in Chambersburg, unlike our sister city up north, have put together a winter festival that features ice sculptures, food, dancing and fireworks — rather than a festival whose highlight is the pulling of a mangy rodent out of the ground.”

The comment appears to have ruffled some fur in Punxsutawney, located in Jefferson County.

Mike Johnson, vice president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, told Public Opinion he felt Lagiovane owes Chambersburg’s “sister city” an apology for his comment about Punxsutawney’s Groundhog Day festival.

Johnson said his town’s festival is much more than just Phil’s few minutes in the limelight. Groundhog Day has been conducted since 1886, while IceFest has nine years to its credit.

Events in Punxsutawney this week include ice sculptures carved by Indiana University of Pennsylvania culinary arts students, as well as food, dancing and an early-morning fireworks display.

“If you have never experienced fireworks in the morning, you have never experienced fireworks,” he said of the 6:30 a.m. display.

Johnson concedes the big draw is the iconic Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog he calls the “seer of seers, prognosticator of all prognosticators and the original weather prophet.”

At sunrise Wednesday, Phil will emerge from his heated burrow. his handlers will then announce whether or not Phil saw his shadow. if Phil sees his shadow, legend has it we can expect six more weeks of winter weather.

No shadow indicates an early spring, something Johnston suspects many Franklin County residents are hoping for, especially given the major two-day winter storm predicted for this week.

As for “mangy,” Johnston also challenges the mayor’s assessment of Phil’s winter coat. The Punxsutawney groundhog sees a veterinarian three times a year and his coat is kept perfectly groomed.


Vicky Taylor can be reached at 262-4753 or

Chambersburg mayor’s quip miffs Punxsutawney

Related Websites

    Be Sociable, Share!