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updated: 1/31/2013 12:20 PM

City celebrates 20th anniversary of 'Groundhog Day'

City of Woodstock unleashes week of festivities to celebrate 20th anniversary of 'Groundhog Day' filming

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  • Animal handler Mark Szafarn of Chicago holds Woodstock Willie at last year's Groundhog Day prognostication in the Woodstock Square.

       Animal handler Mark Szafarn of Chicago holds Woodstock Willie at last year's Groundhog Day prognostication in the Woodstock Square.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer, 2012

  • Hundreds of people are expected to wait anxiously to see if Woodstock Willie the groundhog sees his shadow during the annual Groundhog Prognostication event on Saturday, Feb. 2, in Woodstock Square in Woodstock.

      Hundreds of people are expected to wait anxiously to see if Woodstock Willie the groundhog sees his shadow during the annual Groundhog Prognostication event on Saturday, Feb. 2, in Woodstock Square in Woodstock.
    Courtesy of Woodstock Groundhog Days Committee

  • Will Woodstock Willie see his shadow this year? Find out on Saturday morning, Feb. 2.

       Will Woodstock Willie see his shadow this year? Find out on Saturday morning, Feb. 2.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer, 2012

  • Woodstock's Town Square doubles for Punxsutawney, Pa., for Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliot in the 1993 movie "Groundhog Day."

      Woodstock's Town Square doubles for Punxsutawney, Pa., for Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliot in the 1993 movie "Groundhog Day."
    Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

  • Bill Murray and a groundhog get behind the wheel of a pickup truck in the 1993 film "Groundhog Day." This year's Groundhog Days festival in Woodstock celebrates the film's 20th anniversary.

      Bill Murray and a groundhog get behind the wheel of a pickup truck in the 1993 film "Groundhog Day." This year's Groundhog Days festival in Woodstock celebrates the film's 20th anniversary.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Storyteller Jim May will share "Groundhog Tales" at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Home State Bank in Woodstock.

      Storyteller Jim May will share "Groundhog Tales" at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Home State Bank in Woodstock.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
Daily Herald staff reports

It's been more than 20 years since the movie "Groundhog Day" was filmed in Woodstock, but the town hasn't forgotten.

"In 1992, something astonishing happened in the historic city of Woodstock, Illinois," according to the Groundhog Day website. "People came to town and roped off the picturesque city square, moved all sorts of equipment into the park and started playing the Pennsylvania Polka over and over and over again."

The movie that was released in 1993, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, has retained its popularity, and "Groundhog Day" has become a catchphrase for repetitive situations. The film was added to the United States National Film Registry in 2006 as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

To understand the significance of the movie, and the holiday, look no further than the city of Woodstock, which began its Groundhog Days festival Jan. 27 and continues celebrating through Sunday, Feb. 3.

The busiest day will be Saturday, Feb. 2, with a variety of activities scheduled, including groundhog Woodstock Willie's prognostication on the Woodstock Square at 7 a.m.

If getting up early on a weekend isn't your style, other activities include the Awakening of the Groundhog at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at the Woodstock Opera House; or a Groundhog Day dinner dance at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at the Woodstock Moose Lodge.

New this year is Groundhog Day Bowling from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Wayne's Lanes, 109 E. Church St., Woodstock. For $10, bowlers can play two games and enjoy breakfast or lunch.

The weekend continues with free showings of the film, a chili cook-off, walking tours of the filming sites, groundhog storytelling by Jim May, and a bags tourney.

For a complete schedule of events, visit woodstockgroundhog.org or call (815) 334-2620.

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