A Brief History of Woodstock’s Groundhog Days

  • 1992     Filming of the movie
  • 1993     Groundhog Day movie released
  • Feb.2, 1994     Cheryl Wormley and Mike Palmquist cross paths, and decide that Woodstock needs to celebrate Groundhog Day in honor of the movie’s filming in Woodstock.
  • 1995     first breakfast*
  • 1996     Celebration expands more as we know it today, included first tours of the filming sites**
  • 1997     chaired by Mayor Bill Anderson; Bill Hoffman (of Animal Rentals) brings a groundhog, Richard Henzel performs his lines from the movie, the groundhog costume (donated by Teak Builders) is used for the first time. Harold Ramis leads movie tour, First chili cookoff
  • 1999     Pam Moorhouse chairs, first prognostication on the Square
  • 2003     Craig Krandel joins the committee as co-chair
  • 2004     Stephen Tobolowsky (Needle Nose Ned) flies in from L.A. adds fun and entertainment to the weekend’s activities.
  • 2006     WGN’s Spike O’Dell show broadcasts from Stage Left Café. Huge crowds swarm the Square.

*- On February 2, 1995, approximately twenty five people showed up for the first Groundhog Day breakfast. It was a small gathering but it was a beginning. Mayor Bill Anderson attended and pledged his support. He also issued a challenge to increase the breakfast crowd to 100.
**-The 1996 celebration included a 6:00 am breakfast at Tavern on the Square with Richard Henzel, entertaining the crowd with excerpts from the movie; a third grade art contest, free showings of the movie at the Woodstock Theater, an ice sculpting competition, a window display contest and a dinner dance and auction to benefit the Woodstock School District 200 Education Foundation.

Over the following 12 years, the Groundhog “Inner Square” Committee has risen to the challenge, and today’s events include a four day celebration attracting hundreds of people from as far away as Europe, to our festivities. Through the years, the ice sculpting has been replaced by a woodcarving demonstration; “Groundhogs on Parade” has been added to offer an opportunity for all to show their creativity by decorating a plywood cutout of a groundhog; and a symposium to discuss the deeper meaning of the movie is held. We continue to partner with School District 200 by having students participate in the third grade art contest, the “Groundhogs on Parade” and by auctioning off a wood sculpture at the Dinner/Dance and naming a King and Queen. In the past three years, we have included the Woodstock Moose Lodge in our activities, holding a “Shake Off the Winter Blues Celebration” dinner/dance on Friday night.

Our Committee’s goal has always been to offer the community events that would be family-oriented, get people out during a time of year that most would rather not and to commemorate the filming of the movie, and bring people to Woodstock whether for the first time or again and again each year. We keep it light-hearted and fun, after all, we are talking about a groundhog!

Our committee is composed of volunteers from all walks of life, we bring to Woodstock, an opportunity to showcase our beautiful city to not only all those hardy souls who venture out in the winter but all year long, looking for “The Puddle” and “The Cherry Street Inn” filming sites and anything to do with the movie ‘Groundhog Day”. We feel that our event is here to stay, and are always looking for opportunities to better the celebration. The City’s continued support has been greatly appreciated, and with additional funding even more good can be accomplished!