Forget Punxsutawney Phil: Woodstock Willie's Groundhog Day prediction says spring is coming

  • Woodstock Willie is held by handler Mark Szafarn after he was removed from his tree stump before the groundhog makes his prognostication Wednesday during the annual Groundhog Day Prognostication on the Woodstock Square. This is the 30th anniversary of the movie "Groundhog Day" that was filmed in Woodstock.

    Woodstock Willie is held by handler Mark Szafarn after he was removed from his tree stump before the groundhog makes his prognostication Wednesday during the annual Groundhog Day Prognostication on the Woodstock Square. This is the 30th anniversary of the movie "Groundhog Day" that was filmed in Woodstock. Gregory Shaver/Shaw Media

  • Woodstock Willie is held by handler Mark Szafarn as Willie makes his prognostication of an early spring Wednesday and Woodstock Mayor Mike Turner announces Willie's findings during the annual Groundhog Day Prognostication on the Woodstock Square.

    Woodstock Willie is held by handler Mark Szafarn as Willie makes his prognostication of an early spring Wednesday and Woodstock Mayor Mike Turner announces Willie's findings during the annual Groundhog Day Prognostication on the Woodstock Square. Gregory Shaver/Shaw Media

  • People watch as Woodstock Willie makes his prognostication of an early spring Wednesday during the annual Groundhog Day Prognostication on the Woodstock Square. This is the 30th anniversary of the movie "Groundhog Day" that was filmed in Woodstock.

    People watch as Woodstock Willie makes his prognostication of an early spring Wednesday during the annual Groundhog Day Prognostication on the Woodstock Square. This is the 30th anniversary of the movie "Groundhog Day" that was filmed in Woodstock. Gregory Shaver/Shaw Media

  • Paul Lockwood holds up a sign after Woodstock Willie made his prognostication of an early spring Wednesday during the annual Groundhog Day Prognostication on the Woodstock Square.

    Paul Lockwood holds up a sign after Woodstock Willie made his prognostication of an early spring Wednesday during the annual Groundhog Day Prognostication on the Woodstock Square. Gregory Shaver/Shaw Media

 
 
Updated 2/2/2022 4:58 PM

Witnessed by crowds gathered in the historic Woodstock Square early Wednesday morning despite snowy forecasts, Woodstock Willie the groundhog did not see his shadow.

"This Feb. 2, at 7:07, Woodstock Willie, the seer of seers, prognosticator of prognosticators emerged very reluctantly but alertly in Woodstock, Illinois, to wish his faithful followers a happy Groundhog Day," Mayor Mike Turner said. "Willie looked skyward to the east and then behind to the ground and stated in very clear groundhog-ese, 'I definitely do not see my shadow.'"

 

This Groundhog Day marks the 30th anniversary of the filming of the 1993 classic "Groundhog Day" in Woodstock, which starred Illinois native Bill Murray.

The prognostication featured the return of Richard Henzel, the DJ voice on the clock radio in the movie, and Groundhog Days Committee Chairman Rick Bellairs noted that many of those standing in the crowd at the Groundhog Day scene in the movie were regular Woodstock residents.

Welcoming the first-timers, Turner, who was marking his first Groundhog Day as mayor, encouraged them to come "again and again and again and spend some money in Woodstock."

The prognostication Wednesday morning is the star event of a week of activities that include showings of the movie, a chili cook-off, breakfast, dances and a tour of filming sites.

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Outside its significance in Woodstock, the Groundhog Day tradition began in North America as early as the 1700s by German immigrants. It wasn't until 1887 that the practice became a holiday of sorts.

Confused by what the groundhog's actions mean? If the groundhog sees its shadow, sunlight permitting, then winter weather is expected to last another six weeks. If the groundhog doesn't see its shadow, then spring weather is around the corner.

Punxsutawney Phil, who makes a separate prognostication in a community about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, predicted six more weeks of winter, The Associated Press reported.

According to records dating back to 1887, Phil has predicted winter more than 100 times, according to the AP. Ten years were lost because no records were kept, organizers said.

New York City's Staten Island Chuck also expects an early spring, the AP said, citing Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon, who presided over a ceremony there.

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