02022020—A Great Day in Woodstock, IL

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Groundhog Day became a major holiday here in Woodstock in 1993. That year marked the release of the film Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, that was filmed largely in our town.

But if you were paying close attention this year, there were hints that something bigger than usual might be happening. First, there were calendar-related clues. Take another look at the title of this post. Today’s date is a palindrome; it is the same whether read forward or backward. Today is the only time a palindrome date will occur this century.

And here’s another fluke of scheduling. Today is also Super Bowl LIV. It’s a huge day for not only fans of professional football, but also fans of creative television commercials.

In Woodstock, the buzz started early this year. And it was louder than usual. Two weeks ago, the city announced street closures and parking bans on our town square for Saturday, Jan. 25. All we were told was that a commercial would be filmed.

That wasn’t too unusual. Several commercials have used our charming, historic Square as their settings. To my knowledge, no one, except probably city officials, knew the identity of the company making the commercial.

That would soon change. On the day of filming, a bright, shiny orange Jeep Gladiator showed up on the Square. Okay, one question was answered.

Then actor Bill Murray was spotted on the Square, and photos of him popped up on social media. With that, people began putting it together. With the Super Bowl being played on Groundhog Day, was there a connection between the commercial and the movie? Some kind of recap would be clever, since the movie was all about one day being repeated over and over.

When actors Stephen Tobolowsky (Needlenose Ned) and Brian Doyle-Murray (the Mayor) showed up too, it certainly looked like there was a film connection. Spokespeople for Jeep wouldn’t comment so we had to wait and see. Yesterday we learned that our guess about a movie recap was right when they began releasing 15-second teasers of the commercial.

That brings us to this morning, when Woodstock awoke to find that Jeep had released the full 60-second commercial. When I arrived at church at 7:45 for choir practice, people were watching it on their phones. Judging by their reactions, and others I have heard, Woodstock is happy with the end result.

Here, just for you, is a sneak peek of the commercial that will air at some unspecified time during the broadcast.

And here is Jeep’s announcement that accompanies the video on YouTube.

It’s “Groundhog Day” all over again as Jeep brand debuts a Big Game spot starring Bill Murray (in his first-ever national television commercial). But this time reliving the same day over and over again is always a new adventure when you’re driving the 2020 Jeep Gladiator. Jeep. There’s only one.

Yes, there is only one Jeep, just as there’s only one Woodstock, IL. And today we will enjoy our 60 seconds of fame on the world stage.


  1. marciakoshollek says

    Great story, Caryl! Great memories of Woodstock. Was it the Rachford family that owned the big home in the film? Bill and I bought the home right behind it. I need to watch the movie again. Sally Willett Johnson shared your wonderful blog with me. Her former golf pro in CO is now our golf pro here in AZ. Sally and Dave have visited here a few times. Sending warm AZ hugs to you!


    • Thank you, Marcia! It’s great hearing from you. You are correct that the Rachfords once owned the house used in the film. Now it is a B and B owned by another WHS grad and his wife. If you are ever going to be back in this corner of the world, please let me know.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. marciakoshollek says

    Absolutely! I would love to see you again. We have lived in AZ for 20 years. I am sure that Woodstock has changed a lot since we left in 1985. I loved Woodstock, especially meeting my husband there! We have been married 37 years. 🤗 Best wishes to you!


  3. judithkoellerrn says

    Caryl, loved your post, loved the commercial! Great time to be from Woodstock!


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