1/24/2013 9:07:00 AM Illinois festival celebrates film "Groundhog Day"
WOODSTOCK, ILL. -- If you are among the millions of fans who watch "Groundhog Day," over and over and over again, you may already be aware that the McHenry County, Ill., town of Woodstock, 50 miles northwest of Chicago, is where the movie starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell was filmed. Since its 1993 release, "Groundhog Day" has acquired a cult following, and Woodstock celebrates its popularity by hosting a mid-winter "Groundhog Days" festival.
Each year, Groundhog Days continues to attract larger crowds of movie fans. This year's celebration, Jan. 27 - Feb. 3, marks the 20th year of the film's release. It gets underway with a Lion's Club pancake breakfast at 8 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 27, in the Woodstock Moose Lodge, where the movie's dance scene and bachelor auction were filmed.
At 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan 31, the excitement builds with the Welcoming of the Groundhog ceremonies at the historic 1889 Woodstock Opera House, where Murray took his fateful dive from the belfry. Woodstock Willie will make an appearance on the balcony of the Opera House and spectators are invited to gather on the street below. Following a few surprises, Willie will join his fans, who will have an opportunity to pose for pictures with the furry mascot.
Willie's official prognostication takes place in Woodstock Square at sunrise on Groundhog Day, Saturday, Feb. 2. Will he see his shadow this year, or will spring come early?
After the forecast, enjoy a free showing of the movie; a symposium hosted by a cast or crew member; Groundhog Tales, with Emmy Award-winning storyteller Jim May; a chili cook-off and more.
During events in Woodstock Square, 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. Take a guided walking tour of 14 sites where memorable scenes in the movie were shot. The tour includes 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. Once you've seen this painted lady, you'll want to wake up there over and over and over again, too.
Events conclude On Sunday, Feb. 3, with another free showing of the movie and more walking tours of filming sites.
For a full list of events, dates and times, log on to www.woodstockgrounhog.org