Every day is Groundhog Day in Woodstock, IL, but if you're among the millions of fans who view the film "Groundhog Day" over and over again, this McHenry County town 50 miles northwest of Chicago (and 39.6 miles west of Geneva) has a party coming up with you in mind.
Woodstock is where the movie starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell was filmed in 1992, and since its release a year later, it has acquired a cult-like following. In the movie, Murray woke up here every morning, and you can, too, during Woodstock's mid-winter "Groundhog Days" festival, January 26 through Feb. 2, 2014.
Groundhog Days celebrates the making of the movie, when the town stood in for Punxsutawney, PA, home of the legendary spring forecasting rodent. Things get under way with a Lion's Club pancake breakfast Sunday, Jan. 26, in the Woodstock Moose Lodge, where the film's dance scene and bachelor auction were filmed. Celebrations conclude with Woodstock Willie's official prognostication at sunrise on Sunday, Feb. 2, in Woodstock Square, followed by the Groundhog Day Breakfast, additional movie showings and walking tours of filming sites. In between, Thursday, Jan. 30, through Saturday, Feb. 1, events include:
- Awakening of the Groundhog Ceremony at Woodstock Opera House.
- Groundhog Trivia and Hot Chocolate with Woodstock Willie.
- Chocolate & Wine Pairing.
- Groundhog Day Dinner Dance.
- Groundhog Tales with Emmy Award-winning storyteller Jim May.
- Chili Cook-Off.
- Bowling Tournament.
- Rotary Bag Toss Tournament in the Snow for Charity.
- District 200 Education Foundation Dinner & Auction.
- Groundhog Day Movie Symposium.
- Groundhog Day Movie Showing.
- Walking Tour of Filming Sites.
During events in Woodstock Square and on the walking tour, you can step on a plaque that reads "Bill Murray Stepped Here," set into the spot where the actor plunged into a huge slush puddle in the movie. The walking tour includes 14 sites where memorable scenes in the movie were shot, such as the exquisitely appointed Royal Victorian Manor Bed & Breakfast, portrayed in the movie as the Cherry Street Inn, the boarding house where Murray woke up over and over and over again.
Most Groundhog Days events are free, but some require tickets purchased in advance. For a full list of events, dates and times, log on to www.woodstockgroundhog.org.
SOURCE: McHenry County Convention & Visitors Bureau