Groundhog Day more than a celebration of early spring

It may seem unusual to have a wedding on Groundhog Day, but for Kelsey and Thomas Stark, of Murrysville, it seemed a natural choice.

“We met at the IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) Culinary School in Punxsutawney,” said Thomas Stark. “When we first met, she gave me a hard time about not having a name tag. Her giving me a hard time sort of made me think I should talk to her.”

Twenty years and two children later, the couple are still talking.

“We celebrated our 20th anniversary in January, and we thought this would be an opportunity to renew our vows,” said Thomas Stark.

Kelsey Stark said renewing their vows on Groundhog Day – a day during which Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring – and in the town where they met was a way to show how much the couple love each other.

“Our friends thought it was interesting,” said Thomas Stark. “The younger guys were like, ‘OK,’ but the older ones thought it was a real nice gesture. Once they heard the story behind it, they thought it was a nice thing to do.”

This time the attire was a bit more casual than their first wedding. No tuxedo or wedding dress was required this time.

“For our wedding they screwed up the sizes of the tuxedos and we had to drive and get refitted on the day of the wedding,” said Thomas Stark. “All four of us crowded into a bathroom on the way back and changed into our tuxes. This is much more relaxing.”

This time around the family dressed for the temperature, which was about 25 degrees on Saturday. And, unlike thousands of others, the Stark family did not go to Gobblers’ Knob.

“With the two little ones it was too much,” said Kelsey Stark. “Walking around town the last two hours was enough.”

The Stark’s second honeymoon was a weekend off together.

“That doesn’t happen for us too often. We are just going to go home and relax,” said Kelsey Stark.

The Stark’s wedding was a first for the man performing the wedding.

“I have done probably 700 weddings in my career,” said retired District Judge Doug Chambers. “This is the first Groundhog wedding I have done.”

Mike Johnston, a member of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle, acted as a witness.

“The first renewal scheduled for the day failed to show up. I guess they got cold feet,” said Johnston, who gave the couple a gift basket on behalf of the club.