Groundhog Day: Floridians Celebrate Six More Weeks of Winter With a Hollywood Swim | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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Groundhog Day: Floridians Celebrate Six More Weeks of Winter With a Hollywood Swim

At 7:20 a.m. Sunday in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil awoke from hibernation, saw its shadow, and unwittingly predicted six more weeks of winter. Considering that temperatures were in the 20s that day, no one can really blame the poor fellow for retreating to the warmth of its hole (even though most folks had crossed their fingers for an early spring).

Meanwhile, almost 1,200 miles away at the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, hundreds of people stripped down to their bathing suits and plunged into the ocean alongside a friendly human-sized groundhog to celebrate Groundhog Day the wacky Floridian way. It was 75 degrees, there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and the sun was peeking over the horizon. People lathered themselves with sunscreen and darted for the ocean completely unfazed by the rodent's six-more-weeks-of-winter prediction.

See also: Coldpocalypse 2014: The Five Stages for a Northern Transplant Living in Florida

The holiday was first celebrated 118 years ago at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, where it has remained every year since. Since then, other states have found their own weather-predicting groundhogs and have given them their own alliterative nicknames, but the first -- and most reliable -- was Punxsutawney Phil from Pennsylvania. The famed rodent has met President Reagan, made an appearance on Oprah, and inspired the eponymous movie starring Bill Murray.

Cahoots newspaper publisher Jeff Hansen is originally from Punxsutawney but currently resides in South Florida. As a huge fan of the holiday, Hansen organized South Florida's own Groundhog Day tradition ten years ago. Since then, people have set their alarms early to attend the relatively frigid sunrise swim at Hollywood Beach year after year."You might be better off staying out the night before!" Hansen advises.

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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson

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