“This is the biggest crowd ever,” proclaimed Groundhog Days Committee chairman Rick Bellairs as he surveyed the throngs of people gathered on the Woodstock Square shortly before sunrise on February 2nd.
After a string of below-zero days, Saturday’s crowd, some in groundhog hats, was in a festive mood, waiting with bated breath for Woodstock Willie’s verdict on the possibility of an early spring.
Actor Stephen Tobolowsky, who played the iconic insurance agent Ned Ryerson in the movie Groundhog Day, was on hand to read the prognostication, translated from ‘groundhogese’:
“I definitely do NOT see a shadow,” Tobolowsky announced to the delighted crowd.
The variety of license plates on the cars parked around the Woodstock Square testified to the far-reaching and enduring popularity of the 26-year-old film, in which Phil Connors (Bill Murray) re-lives Groundhog Day over and over and over. Five days of events drew visitors from California to Virginia, from Alabama to the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, as well as visitors from Germany and Spain.
Prior to the prognostication, Groundhog Days Committee members recited the movie disc jockeys’ familiar lines that awakened Phil Connors each morning. The crowd sang along heartily as the polka band Die Musikmeisters played “The Pennsylvania Polka,” and groundhog parody songs – “Take Me Out to the Tree Stump” (“Take Me Out to the Ballgame”) and “Groundhog!” (The Flinstones theme song).
For those who wanted to string out the celebration over the course of several days, there were plenty of activities to choose from.[metaslider id=”2882″]
The President of McDonald’s USA, Chris Kempczinski, showed up at the Singleton Family McDonald’s in Woodstock for a kickoff party on Tuesday with live music and an appearance by Woodstock Willie. Other events during the week included a children’s story time, a trivia contest, a display of movie memorabilia at the Woodstock Public Library, a dinner dance, a chili cook-off, and walking tours of the filming sites. Four hundred people packed the Woodstock Opera House to hear Tobolowsky talk about the movie, and he remained for two-and-a-half hours afterward to pose for pictures and sign copies of his book, My Adventures with God. Classic Cinemas Woodstock offered a free showing of Groundhog Day on Saturday morning and filled all eight theaters!
While the popular multi-day festival is an antidote for the winter blues, its heart remains the beloved film that Tobolowsky called, [director] “Harold Ramis’ gift of laughter through time.”
Keefe Real Estate has eight convenient offices throughout Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, including one in Woodstock! Click here for more information about Keefe’s various office locations.
By: Sue Murray
Photos Courtesy of Rick Bellairs and the Groundhog Days Committee