Groundhog Day is twice as nice in Chicago

This weekend’s Wisch List newspaper column from The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.)


By Dave Wischnowsky

The 2nd of February is meant to be a day where we cheer on a chubby rodent just for peeking his head out of a hole and letting us know whether spring will be coming soon.

But these days, when it comes to the primary meaning of “Groundhog Day” for many people, it’s as if Punxsutawney Phil has become an afterthought.

That’s because thanks to the 1993 film during which a self-centered Pittsburgh TV weatherman played by Bill Murray finds himself trapped in a time loop repeating the same day – Feb. 2 – again and again, “Groundhog Day” now has taken on a very different meaning. Today, it refers as much to experiencing “déjà vu” as it does playing “peek-a-boo” with a woodchuck.

But not one to quibble with pop culture, I thought I’d offer up some “Groundhog Day” events from throughout Chicago history. None of them happened on Feb. 2, mind you, but they did happen.

And then happened again.

The Mayors Daley

If there’s anything that’s repetitive in Chicago, it’s politics. But nothing in the Windy City’s political history repeated in as big a way as the reigns of the Richard J. and Richard M. Daley.

From April 20, 1955, until his death on Dec. 20, 1976, Richard J. Daley served as the undisputed “Boss” of Chicago. Thirteen years later in 1989, Daley’s son was elected as mayor and served until 2011, a 22-year tenure for Richard M. that surpassed that of his dad.

Samuel Wanjiru

An Olympic gold medal-winning marathoner who died tragically in May 2011 at just the age of 24 when he fell off a balcony during a domestic abuse at his Kenyan home, Wanjiru first experienced the thrill of victory in Chicago in 2009.

That year, Wanjiru won the Chicago Marathon in a time of 2:05:41, the fastest marathon time ever run in the U.S. He returned to defend his title in 2010, and despite batting a stomach virus, Wanjiru chased down Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede in the final 400 meters to become a repeat winner with a time of 2:06:24.

The Chicago Bulls

The Bulls didn’t just repeat. They three-peated, which is like “Groundhog Day” on PEDs.

Accused bank robber Sherri Wilson

According to authorities, Chicagoan Sherri Wilson, 55, entered the TCF Bank inside the Jewel-Osco at 94th and Ashland on Dec. 6, 2012, and told the staff she wanted to open up an account.

After she was escorted into the office by a bank teller, however, Wilson said she didn’t have any I.D. and left, only to return a few minutes later with a note that read “this is a hold up … put all the money in the envelope.” The teller filled the envelope with $282.95 and Wilson fled.

On Jan. 4, though, Wilson allegedly returned to the same bank and again asked to open an account before again leaving with no I.D. This time, staff recognized the 5-foot-3, 270-pounder and watched as she wrote out a note while walking around the supermarket’s bakery and floral department. When Wilson returned to the counter moments later, she was arrested by police – as a repeat offender.

Ex-Cub Bob Locker

In November 1972, after the Oakland A’s won the World Series, they traded pitcher Bob Locker to the Chicago Cubs.

Locker fared well, winning 10 games and saving 18 for the Cubs in ’73 before being traded back to the A’s in November, per his request. That move didn’t work out well, however, as Locker missed the entire season following elbow surgery. And after Oakland won the ’74 World Series, they again traded him back to the Cubs.

Talk about your “Groundhog Days.”