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Groundhog Days in Woodstock Part 1

Posted on Sunday, February 1st, 2009 at 12:33 am CET

Today we went to Woodstock for Groundhog Days. Since the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray was filmed in Woodstock, the town has been celebrating the days leading up to the February 2nd holiday with events inspired by the movie. We participated in an awesome walking tour of the filming sites with Bob Hutchins, who was location manager for the movie, and at 10:00 this morning we saw a free show of the movie Groundhog Day at Woodstock Theater.

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When we arrived at the theater there were not yet many people there, but it quickly filled up. I heard someone humming the Pennsylvania Polka while I was waiting in line to get popcorn, which I thought was cute. I had the song in my head all day too.

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The theater, which can be seen in the movie, was completely packed and it was great to see the movie on a big screen. Everyone was laughing out loud throughout the film and the whole audience cheered when Phil, Rita and Larry drove into town in their Channel 9 Pittsburg van and you could see the Woodstock buildings. I wish they would re-release more classic movies in cinemas like this.

Each year since the movie came out in 1993 they put up a plaque at one of the filming sites. There’s also one at the theater:

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After seeing the movie at Woodstock Theater we had lunch at Bella’s Caffe, which in the movie was Tip-Top Cafe, where Phil Connors had breakfast here every morning after reporting at Gobbler’s Knob.

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Bella’s Caffe

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View of the square from inside the cafe

I had a Caprese Panini, which was good, but not as good as the lunch I had there a few years ago. When we were there in 2005 the space was occupied by another restaurant called Tip Top Bistro. I remember the sandwiches were delicious. What a shame that they dropped the ‘Tip Top’ from their name. I think it’s a missed marketing opportunity.

(photo from 2005)

(In the above picture you can see a plaque on the ground on the place where Bill Murray kept stepping into the puddle. Watch That First Step. It’s a Doozy!)

There was a woodcarving demonstration on Woodstock Square, but not many people were watching it. I thought it should have been ice carving, as in the movie. That would have made more sense. The man was carving groundhogs out of wood, which was fun.

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We had some time to kill before the tour and looked around the shops in the square. We went inside the Woodstock Mall and bought two Woodstock Groundhog Days t-shirts. There was a display at the entrance with newspaper clippings from 1993 when the filming crew was in town.

Then we walked over to the Opera House where the walking tour of filming sites was about to start. Here I had the honor to meet Phil, the groundhog:

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The tour started at 1:30pm. We had no idea what to expect, but it was great! More about the tour in my next post …

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