Under The Top Hat: Being Phil’s Handler

Local News

Members of the Inner-Circle have roles. Each member brings something different to the club to help forward the mission of promoting the lore of Punxsutawney Phil. One job, however, puts you up close and personal with the prophet prognosticator.

John Griffiths’ job as handler is an important one, but not as glamorous as some may think. In fact, not may rush to volunteer to take over. He explained, “The president at the time asked, ‘does anyone want to give Bill a hand handling the groundhog?’ You could have heard a pin drop. Nobody said anything.”

Griffiths volunteered, reluctantly, and has been on of the two handlers since 2006. He said, “I don’t know if I like it or not because the role of the handler is usually reserved for the member with the lowest IQ. So, I’m not smart enough to know if I like it.”

Handlers are in charge of the uopkeep of Phil, Phyllis and their burrow. Therefore, a lot of time is spent together. 

“He tolerates me,” Griffiths said, “we’ve been together for quite awhile. But, he is a wild animal so when I pick him up it’s a crap shoot on if he’ll bite me or not.”

While he fondly envisions the days of not being Phil’s handlers, it’s the love of the club and the reactions that Phil brings out of people that keep him coming back. 

He explained, “The kids, are kids when they see him. And he turns adults into kids when they see him. People come from all over the world and it’s just amazing the reaction they have from Punxsutawney Phil.”

Check out more stories from Groundhog Week:

Gobbler’s Knob Got Talent

Some History Behind Groundhog Day

Groundhog Vlog: Day One 

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