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It’s Groundhog Time!

February 3, 2013

After planning this Groundhog Day Expedition for years, my kids and I made the early morning trek up to Woodstock, IL, to experience this year’s Groundhog Day prognostication on the 20th anniversary of the film’s release screening in 1993. 

We got up about 4am so that we could leave by 5am to make the 75 miler travel to Woodstock by the 7am prognostication.  As you might imagine, when kids are involved, things can go awry.  For various reasons we didn’t end up getting on the road until almost 5:30am.  That didn’t leave us much time to get there in time. 

And there was another obstacle….SNOW!  Yes, we awoke and went to the car to find a layer of snow on the ground and snow still falling in the early morning darkness.

Snow plays a part in the movie Groundhog Day too.  Snow is a sign that something is different…very different – than the day that the lead character in the movie relives over and over and over.  Snow is a sign of a new beginning, and purity, and goodness, and innocence and redemption from above.  Groundhog Day…again….but something is different….something is better.  The spell is broken.  This symblolism appears in two of my all-time favorite movies: Groundhog Day and also in the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life.  A new chance to live well … and love.

Cody, Tess, Canyon and I sped through the darkness to arrive in Woodstock at the crack of dawn with only about 5 minutes to spare before the Groundhog Day festivities began.  I was so excited to arrive in time despite our obstacles.  I trusted God would get us there safely in time and He did.  We parked the car and quickly walked to the town square that was filling with a festive crowd.

There was a lighted gazebo at the center of the square where the event leadership was crowded, with many hundreds of people gathered around it.  We could only get a stone’s throw away from the gazebo due to the crowd.

I tried taking pictures of me and the kids (taking pictures of myself and others is a bit of a talent with me, but with all 3 kids there, it was a little tough to get us all in, so I asked a couple of people to take some pictures of us and they kindly obliged. 

Cody, Canyon, Tess and I at Groundhog Day Prognostication Event with Gazebo in background

Cody, Canyon, Tess and I at Groundhog Day Prognostication Event with gazebo in background

After some preliminary hoopla with the Woodstock Polka (the tune Pennsylvania Polka from the movie Groundhog Day with words added to tell the local Woodstock Groundhog Day tradition) and a reading of the radio play at the beginning of the movie Groundhog Day (“Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s cooooold out there today”…), the groundhog came out and they held him up to the crowd and read his formal statement…long statement short: the groundhog did NOT see his shadow, and that means that there will be an early spring!   The crowd cheered with delight.

After the prognostication event festivities, the kids and I went to the bowling alley that appeared in the movie for a few photos, and then to the bed and breakfast that appeared in the movie for a few more.

Canyon and I in front of the famous bed and breakfast shown in the movie Groundhog Day

Canyon and I in front of the famous bed and breakfast shown in the movie Groundhog Day

We then got a bite to eat in the diner (now taqueria) that appears in the movie.  While seated there we saw Woodstock Willie, the town mascot for the event, outside the diner, so Canyon and I had our picture taken with him.  While inside the diner, we sat at a table next to a guy who was dressed in costume as the famous Ned Ryerson from the film (Needle-nose Ned…Ned with the head) and had some laughs about that.

Canyon, Woodstock Willie and I near the diner and puddle shown in the movie Groundhog Day

Canyon, Woodstock Willie and I near the diner and puddle shown in the movie Groundhog Day

Our only disappointment was that when we went to see the free showing of the movie at the movie theatre across the street from the diner, the theatre shown in the movie, the theatre was ‘sold out’ and we were not able to see the film’s showing.  I noted that there appeared to be an addition going on next to the movie theatre, so perhaps in the future there will be more seating, but for today, our Groundhog Day festivities came to an early end.

Next year Groundhog Day falls on a Sunday, another weekend date, and there has already been talk of going again next year for another adventurous expedition – maybe even sleep in a hotel or bed and breakfast up there so we don’t have to get up so very early.  Maybe we’ll get to see the movie then.  Maybe we’ll even see you there.  Why not plan to join us!?!?


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