Flamingos set to flock UW-Madison for 40th year

Local News

Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association

MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) — Since 1979, UW-Madison’s Bascom Hill has been invaded by hundreds of pink flamingos.

This year, for the 40th time, the lawn ornaments will flock to campus to greet students on their way to the first day of classes for the new school year.

Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association

On September 4, 1979, students found 1,008 plastic, pink flamingos thanks to the work of the Pail and Shovel Party, the mock political organization that took control of UW-Madison’s student government that year.

According to the university, the group, led by Leon Varjian and Jim Mallon, used its $80,000 budget for a series of pranks that year, including the flamingos.

Nearly four decades later, the tradition carries on.

In 2009, the city of Madison designated the lawn ornament as the city’s official bird. The original prank by Varjian and Mallon is memorialized on the Badger Pride Wall in the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Alumni Park.

Each fall, the Association holds its annual Fill the Hill fundraiser, where each donation given during the one-day event results in a flamingo being added to the flock.

For more on the UW-Madison flamingo invasion, visit Fill the Hill.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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