It’s almost time to “rise and shine campers.”
Groundhog Day is Thursday, but the city of Woodstock begins celebrating its favorite furry rodent tonight on the historic Woodstock Square.
Woodstock’s weeklong Groundhog Day celebration begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday with the free “Welcoming of the Groundhog” at the Woodstock Opera House, 121 W. Van Buren St., Woodstock, according to the Woodstock Groundhog Day website.
Woodstock Willie will make his appearance on the balcony of the Woodstock Opera House. Spectators are invited to gather on the street below, the website states.
“Following a few surprises, Willie will join his fans who will have the opportunity to pose for pictures with the furry mascot,” the website states.
After the official welcoming, attendees are invited to stop by Pirro’s Restaurant on Main Street to enjoy hot chocolate and play the Groundhog Day movie trivia contest game.
The main event of the week – the annual Woodstock Groundhog Day prognostication is scheduled for 7 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, at the gazebo, located in the center of the Woodstock Square. Visitors will observe whether Woodstock Willie emerges from his tree trunk home to see his shadow.
As groundhog tradition states, if Willie sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter for Northern Illinois. If not, there will be an early spring.
A polka band will play in the bandstand on the square to wake Willie from his nap, the website states.
The ceremony is a re-enactment of the scene from the 1993 Groundhog Day movie, starring Chicago native actor Bill Murray. In the film, Murray portrayed a weatherman who had to report on the Groundhog Day ceremony over and over again. That scene from the movie was filmed in Woodstock.
The week of Woodstock festivities include free showings of the Groundhog Day movie at Classic Cinemas Woodstock Theater, 209 Main St., Woodstock. The free movies are scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2; 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 4; and 10 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, according to the list of events.
Other Groundhog Day activities for the week include:
- A Groundhog Day breakfast.
- Walking tour of the film sites in Woodstock.
- The “Shake Off the Winter Blues” dinner dance
- Chili cook-off.
- Groundhog Tales by local storyteller Jim May.
- Take 17 Lights, Camera, Auction hosted by the District 200 Education Foundation at D’Andrea Banquets, 4419 Northwest Hwy., Crystal Lake.
More detailed information about the Woodstock Groundhog Day schedule of events, dates, times and locations is available at www.woodstockgroundhog.org.