The long history of D.C. has led to some great traditions that span centuries. Dupont Circle’s annual ceremony with Potomac Phil isn’t one of them, but even so, Groundhog Day just won’t be the same next week.
Every year hundreds gather and revel in the absurdity of Potomac Phil’s appearance along a stretch of pavement where Massachusetts Avenue soars over Connecticut Avenue. But this year, the coronavirus means there will be no official ceremony: Organizers said they’re canceling the festivities in order to limit the spread of the virus.
Usually the rigid, stuffed marmot, which has made an appearance at Dupont every year since 2012, is there to make two predictions — unlike its more popular, historic, living brethren, who only offer up one. Potomac Phil guesses both what the weather will bring to the outdoor climate and what politics will bring to the political climate. The six more weeks of winter is usually shadow-dependent; the six more months of political gridlock comes rain or shine. We’ll let you guess which prediction has tended to be more accurate.
If your Groundhog Day celebration won’t be complete without a glimpse of Potomac Phil, the good news, is the groundhog will still be there on Feb. 2. The Dupont Festival said it’ll be there for pictures and to reminisce about its rich history from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. next Tuesday. But everything else, even the accordions, won’t be there.