‘Groundhog Day’ celebration to take place on Fifth Street

Caption! (Alexandra Scoville/DD)
The second Bill Murray party, Bill Murray Crashpad 2013, will take place Saturday night to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the movie Groundhog Day (Alexandra Scoville/DD)

After last year’s successful nationwide Bill Murray house-crashing tour, the 20th anniversary tour of the movie Groundhog Day begins this Saturday in Phoenix.

“So what if it’s a hoax?” the event’s Facebook page said. “We are throwing the greatest celebration Phoenix has ever seen for one the most loved entertainers of our time, Bill effing Murray.”

Lawn Gnome Publishing owner and “Life Aquatic” fan Aaron Johnson started the trend in Phoenix last year after an article on Super Official News, an equivalent to the Onion, reported that Murray fired his agent and was starting a nationwide tour of crashing at people’s homes instead of hotels.

Murray had a reputation for crashing people’s house parties in New York and after South By Southwest, Johnson said.

“We lucked out because that article got picked up by CNN and our event (in Phoenix) became a national starting point of a huge party tour. Not only did we have a successful party here, but there were other parties in other cities on different days,” Johnson said.

Bill Murray Crashpad 2013, the 20th Anniversary tour for Groundhog Day, kicks off in Phoenix, travels to Scottsdale the following day, visit 26 other cities then end in Austin, Texas, according to a Super Official News article. The first event kicks off on Fifth and Roosevelt streets at 8 p.m.

If a venue wishes to open their residence to Murray, they must hang a banner that says “Groundhog Day Party Here,” the Super Official News article said. Suggestions to draw Murray to these parties include hosting karaoke, wearing Groundhog Day costumes and alcohol.

Lawn Gnome Publishing will be hosting Bill Murray Movie Soundtrack Karaoke and a Bill Murray Haiku Competition, according to the Facebook page. Punxsutawney Phil Sowerby, the groundhog, will be making an appearance at Bodega 420 at 8 pm.

“It’s fun to hang out in the middle of summer and beat the heat by dressing in a goofy costume or singing karaoke at the top of your lungs in front of people you’ve never met before or meeting the Arizona Ghostbusters,” Johnson said.

The Arizona Ghostbusters is a charitable fan club that dawns the Ghostbuster uniform.

Bodega 420 co-owner Adrian Fontes, whose favorite Bill Murray movie currently is Groundhog Day, said the groundhog presentation was kid friendly.

If Punxsutawney Phil Sowerby sees his shadow, it will be another two months of summer, Johnson said. If he doesn’t see it, it will only be one month of summer.

Last year, Super Official News founder Paul Horner helped make the party at Lawn Gnome a large-scale event, Johnson said. He posed as Murray’s agent, he said.

“(Horner) was going to go to a party in Scottsdale and he called them up and they were like, ‘we don’t know you.’ And he was like, ‘ya, but I just want to come to your party and if Bill Murray comes with me that’s going to be cool, right?’ And they were like, ‘nah, it’s a private party.’ And he was like, ‘But I’m the one who created the idea,’” Johnson said.

Afterward he decided to attend the party at Lawn Gnome and wrote about it on his website, Johnson said.

Last year the event drew thousands of people and was larger than that month’s First Friday, Johnson said.

“I just liked how many people just came to see him, man. It was just kind of rad,” said Ghostbusters fan John Sagasta, owner of Jobot Coffee and Melt, who attended last year’s celebration.

But Johnson said he only expects 60 or 70 people to attend this year’s celebration.

Fontes said he will enjoy the event regardless of how many people attend.

“There’s something that kind of binds people together,” Fontes said. “If you’re even mildly a Bill Murray fan or if Caddyshack is your favorite movie… then you’ve got something in common with people and that’s what we long for. That’s what we strive for in life. We want to be in a familiar place with familiar people and (Bill Murray Crashpad 2013) creates that space if only for an evening.”

Contact the reporter at danika.worthington@asu.edu