Groundhog Day is back


The pavilion in Woodstock's square where the band plays (J Jacobs photo)
The pavilion in Woodstock’s square where the band plays (J Jacobs photo)

February 2, known by weather forecasters and some movie fans as “Groundhog Day,” returns every year.

Suppose, just suppose, as in the famed 1993 film, you magically get to repeat Feb. 2 after spending the whole day doing whatever you actually did on Feb. 2. Would you change anything? Think about it. 

Many libraries have the movie and it can be found with a streaming service. A romcom directed and cowritten by Harold Ramis with Danny Rubin, it is worth watching.

Another good choice is to travel to Woodstock, a charming town northwest of Chicago, where it was filmed. Their groundhog, Woodstock Willie, predicts when Spring may come similarly to Punxsutawne Phil in Punxsutawne, PA. that “Groundhog Day” is supposed to be based on in the movie.  

Both Groundhogs whisper their predictions to their handlers. But in Woodstock, IL You can tour the actual film sites and view the film in the local movie house.

Events surrounding the film start Feb. 1 but are celebrated with a redo of the weather predicting creatures on Feb 2.

For Woodstock info visit Woodstock/Groundhog DayFor Punxsutawney, Pa. see Punxsutawaney Club.

Groundhog Day is based on European folklore as to when to plant. For folklore and other info visit Farmer’s Almanac.

Ed Note: Unlike Groundhog Day, Feb. 29, popularly known by calendar keepers as “Leap Year Day,” doesn’t return every year. It only comes every four years. However, Leap Year Day is back this year, 2024.

Jodie Jacobs


Where to check for the Groundhog Day movie and predictions


Woodstock square and bandstand in the Groundhog Day movie. (J Jacobs photo)
Woodstock square and bandstand in the Groundhog Day movie. (J Jacobs photo)

Snow just blanketed the Northeast and a blizzard is predicted for midweek in the Midwest. But maybe, just maybe, spring is on the way.

Two famed groundhogs (furry woodchucks), Punxsutawney Phil in in Punxsutawney, PA and Woodstock Willie in Woodstock, IL, will be predicting six more weeks of winter if they see their shadow and go back to sleep on Feb. 2. Or, if it’s cloudy in their area their behavior may say spring is coming soon.

The date, Feb. 2, is known in the U.S. as Groundhog Day because, European agriculture folklore has it that the critters’ behavior can be a weather indicator for planting.

Viewed from the creative minds of writer/director Harold Ramis and writer Danny Rubin the idea that a rodent can predict the weather, is a concept fit for a romcom movie with a disagreeable, cynical weatherman as its protagonist.

But instead of filming only in Punxsutawney, PA, Ramis wanted an appropriate (cute and quaint) site near his North Shore home.

Thus Woodstock, with its scenic, old-fashioned square, is where most of the filming took place. Released in 1993, Woodstock, IL is now the town “Groundhog Day” movie fans visit for a few days of free tours of the film’s sites, free movie showings, and, if the weather cooperates, a visit on Feb. 2 when Woodstock Willie does his early morning prediction about spring.

Fans relive the movie by following in TV Weatherman Phil Conners’s (Bill Murray) footsteps including where Murray steps into a puddle and where he and TV producer Rita (Andie MacDowell), the love interest, have their snowball fight in the town square.

For Woodstock, IL Groundhog events visit Woodstock Groundhog. For the movie trailer see Groundhog Day Movie clips. For Punxsutawney Phil visit Groundhog Day Club.

Jodie Jacobs

Looking forward


Chinese New Year (Photo by SnoStudios, LLC)
Chinese New Year (Photo by SnoStudios, LLC)

The year 2021 looked weird on the event calendar. Fun events and show openings were penciled in and then many were crossed out, erased or footnoted with wear a mask and bring the vax card.

It’s hard to predict if 2022 will be an echo but we can ruminate on these five annual happenings that may be experienced in person, on zoom, on TV or ordered and delivered.

Martin Luther King Jr Day

January is kind of quiet but the third weekend typically offers community service opportunities in honor and memory of Martin Luther King Jr. The official recognition day, a federal holiday, is Jan. 17. For more information visit MLK Day | AmeriCorps.

Chinese New Year

You have another chance to celebrate a new year. Food, dragon parades and most traditional observances start Feb. 1 in 2022 to celebrate the Year of the Tiger. They continue through Feb. 15 with the Lantern Festival. For more information visit Chinese New Year.

Groundhog Day
If you want to know how many more weeks of winter are ahead, ask a groundhog. A long time European folklore tradition of predicting the weather by watching animal behavior, the practice moved to the Pennsylvania area where it became a full-blown celebration in Punxsutawney known as Groundhog Day; observed on Feb. 2. Translated into a popular romcom written by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis and directed by Ramis the movie was filmed in Woodstock, IL starring Bill Murray and Andie Macdowell. For Punxsutawaney info see Visit Punxsutawney. For the movie visit Groundhog Day 1993.

Super Bowl LVI

If traveling to southern California you need to know the Super Bowl and crowds will be hanging out Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium, the Rams and chargers home opened in fall of 2020. If watching on TV for the commercials and half time the show starts at 6:30 p.m. ET and is on NBC. Visit Super Bowl Sunday NFL.

Valentine’s Day

Feb. 14, known by some cynics as a Hallmark celebration because of all the cards sent, the day is a chance to say thank you with flowers, candy and dinner out. Some historic notes say the day is really St. Valentine’s Day for a Christian martyr and other sources say it dates to the Roman holiday Lupercalia.. Either way, the day is a chance to express affection. Visit Valentine’s Day/History.

Jodie Jacobs

More winter or early spring depends on your groundhog

Woodstock Willie predicts spring (photo courtesy of Real Woodstock)
Woodstock Willie predicts spring (photo courtesy of Real Woodstock)

If you believe what furry little burrowing animals predict on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, regarding an early spring or six more weeks of winter, it  might depend on where you live.

Punxsutawney Phil’s  prediction, held every Groundhog Day in Western Pennsylvania since 1887, is for more winter.

Phil reportedly saw his shadow at 7:25 Eastern Time according to the The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club during a virtual 2021 event instead of at a jammed Gobbler’s Knob.

But in the Midwestern town of  Woodstock IL, Woodstock Willie who at first was reluctant to leave his abode, noted at 7:07 a.m. Central Time, he definitely didn’t see his shadow so he predicted an early spring to a happy crowd of attendees.

Following the prediction, everyone was invited to Toast to World Peace” over at the Public House of Woodstock’s patio.

“This has been a doozy of a year so we are excited to bring some hope to the world by still hosting the prognostication in Woodstock,” said Danielle Gulli, president of Real Woodstock and the Woodstock Area Chamber of commerce and Industry.

No matter what the groundhog’s weather prediction was in Pennsylvania back in 1992, “Groundhog Day,” written by Harold Ramis and Danny Rubin, was mostly filmed in Woodstock.

The movie  become a fan favorite when released by Columbia Pictures in 1993 and started bringing visitors to the picturesque town following a small, groundhog celebration in 1995.

BTW the prediction didn’t matter but the movie’s snowstorm ignored by Bill Murray as a TV weatherman, did. See the trailer.

Related: Groundhog Day is back in Woodstock.

Jodie Jacobs

Groundhog Day is back in Woodstock

Woodstock groundhog celebration
Woodstock groundhog celebration

You could check a newspaper or TV station for the weather forecast but if interested in whether spring will come early this year, the fun place to go if living in the Chicago area is Woodstock in McHenry County, IIlinois where groundhog Woodstock Willie will be awakened for his weather prediction Feb. 2.

Old farming tales have it that if the groundhog (or beaver in some European countries) see its shadow it will go back underground and winter will stay around for several more weeks.

So pray that Feb. 2 is cloudy.

Woodstock, a small town with a picturesque square anchored by a much photographed bandstand, was the main filming site for director/writer/actor Harold Ramis’ beloved “Groundhog Day” that came out in 1993.

Scouted by then Columbia location manager Bob Hudgins, the town was the stand-in for Punxsutawney, PA, because Ramis and lead Bill Murray lived in the Chicago’s suburbs.

Its tale of how second, third, fourth and more chances changed Murray who played an arrogant weather forecaster, continues to bring visitors to Woodstock where the movie was filmed in 1992.

Woodstock filming site for Groundhog Day
Woodstock filming site for Groundhog Day

But the main time to come is on Groundhog Day weekend for the town’s annual forecasting celebration. There will be tours of the movie’s sites and memorabilia and photos from the classic comedy on many movie goers favorite list will be on display.

“We had record numbers last year,” said Woodstock Chamber spokesperson Melissa McMahon who is also on the Groundhog Day Committee.  She estimated the crowds numbered a few thousand in 2020.

“That’s because it was a Sunday and the weather cooperated. We do not expect nearly that this year because it’s on a Tuesday and because of COVID,” said McMahon.  “But we are having it. We’re just asking people to social distance and wear masks,” she said

The Woodstock event featuring Woodstock Willie’s appearance is at 7 a.m.  on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2. If you go, tour the Woodstock Opera House used as a hotel in the film. See the historic courthouse whose basement was used for the bar scenes and the spot where Ned Ryerson accosted Murray with the follow-up puddle incident.

For excellent behind the scenes insight, click on the location tour video with Hudgins at  Woodstock/Groundhog Day.

Groundhog day in Woodstock,
Groundhog day in Woodstock,

Hudgins phrase for working with Woodstock people and sites, was “Magic in a bottle.”

To refresh the memory check out the trailer.

Written by Ramis and Danny Rubin, it stars Bill Murray who has to relive Feb. 2 until he gets enough right to capture the heart of his love interest played by Andie acDowell.

For more Woodstock celebration information visit Woodstock/groundhog.

If interested in what the Pennsylvania groundhog is forecasting visit Punxsutawney Club.

BTW, another version of the sunny skies forecasting version is that  clear weather on the Christian festival of Candlemas forebodes a prolonged winter.


(Photos by Jodie Jacobs)


Jodie Jacobs


Groundhog Day relived


Woodstock Square where Phil the weatherman and Rita the reporter had their snowball fight in the movie ‘groundhog Day’ (J Jacobs photo)

Maybe groundhogs Woodstock Willie in Illinois and Punxsutawne Phil in Pennsylvania will not see their shadows on Feb. 2, 2020, this year’s Groundhog Day. So maybe spring will come early.

However you feel about a creature’s ability to predict the end of winter, the place to be if you are an early riser and live in Illinois is the village of Woodstock where Harold Ramis had filmed “Groundhog Day,” the popular 1993 movie that he and Danny Rubin wrote.

The celebratory highlight is a very early morning wake-up call for Woodstock Willie. The prognostication takes place Sunday in the town’s historic Woodstock’Square at 7 a.m.

But even if not willing to witness the weather prediction first hand, the town’s Groundhog Day festival is worth the drive. Woodstock has been celebrating the movie and it’s filmed locations for more than 25 years with a free movie showing, marked locations and tours.

To learn more about the event visit Woodstockgroundhog.

To learn about Punxsutawne Phil and the location where Bill Murray was supposed to go as TV weatherman Phil Connors, and how repeating each day until he could get Rita, the accompanying reporter to like him (Andie MacDowell) visit Groundhog.

Jodie Jacobs