The end of winter is in sight! On February 2nd, the groundhog will tell us whether we’ll have an early reprieve from the cold or suffer through another 6 weeks of snow and ice. While Groundhog Day is celebrated across the country, one Chicago suburb takes the festivities to another level. Woodstock, IL was the setting for the movie “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray in 1993, and the town has been celebrating ever since.
“Groundhog Day” tells the story of an egotistical TV weatherman covering the extravagant Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Much to his dismay, Phil Connors (Bill Murray) then finds himself in a time loop, forcing him to repeat the same day over and over again.
Each year, Woodstock holds a variety of events leading up to the much anticipated Groundhog Day Prognostication, including trivia, bowling, walking tours of the film sites, and of course, a “Groundhog Day” movie showing. Woodstock Willie, the groundhog who will make the prediction, is actually a descendent of the original groundhog from the movie. Hundreds of people gather on the square to watch Willie and a reenactment of the Groundhog Day Ceremony from the movie.
The movie was mainly filmed on the Historic Woodstock Square, a registered national historic landmark, and was chosen for its quaint, timeless atmosphere. The picturesque, small town backdrop was even chosen over the real Punxsutawney. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to visit these famous locations from the film:
- The Pennsylvania Hotel – This remarkable building is actually the Historic Woodstock Opera House. It was the setting for the dance scene in the movie.
- The Cherry Street Inn – The inn where Bill Murray stays in the movie was built in 1894 by Judge C.P. Barnes. The beautiful house is now the Royal Victorian Manor Bed & Breakfast.
- Alpine Theater – The Woodstock Theatre was the setting for the movie Phil and Nancy saw.
- Bill Murray’s Puddle – a plaque rests where Bill Murray stepped in the puddle each day stating, “Bill Murray Stepped Here.”
Visit Woodstock, located 50 miles northwest of the Chicago Loop, and join in the Groundhog Day festivities! For a full list of events, visit the Woodstock Groundhog Day website.