Since the 1993 release of
the film Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray as a TV weatherman (who
wakes up and it's Groundhog Day over and over again!) and Andie MacDowell as his
puzzled producer, attendance at the real event has expanded. In 1997,
there were 35,000 visitors in Punxsutawney, five times the Jefferson County
town's 6,700 population.
The Groundhog Day
festivities on February 2, 1992 were joined by Bill Murray studying for his role
in the movie. Then, Columbia Pictures set out to recreate the Punxsutawney
Groundhog Day down to the smallest detail. There were, however, many
Columbia Pictures decided
to film the movie in a location more accessible to a major metropolitan center.
The highways in and around Punxsutawney were few, so Woodstock, Illinois was
chosen as the site. Unfortunately, Woodstock's landscape doesn't have
Pennsylvania's scenic rolling hills. Nevertheless, adjustments were made
for the production. The actual Gobbler's Knob is a wooded hill with a
beautiful view; the Gobbler's Knob in the movie is moved to the town square.
The Punxsutawney Gobbler's Knob was recreated to scale in Woodstock's town
square based on detailed notes and videos the crew made on it's visit to
The movie's script was
changed to include the elaborate ceremony of the Inner Circle on Groundhog Day.
The original groundhog cast for the movie was considered to be too small.
Some of the store names
in Punxsutawney were used in the movie, such as The Smart Shop and Stewart's
Drug Store. Punxsutawney's police cars were also recreated for the movie.
The groundhog-head trash cans and Groundhog Festival flags that line the streets
of Punxsutawney were displayed. Folks traveling to Punxsutawney to see the
"Punxsutawney" they saw in the movie wonder why it looks "so
different, yet seems so similar."