Pail and Shovel Party

Maureen McCabe '80

The Statue of Liberty on Lake Mendota like the Flamingos on Bascom Hill was a ‘Pail and Shovel Parties’ creation. I saw there is still a postcard available. Was that something that was done more than one year? What years were the Pail and Shovel party in power? Who were they? What else did they do? What have they gone on to do with their lives?

Abe

The Wisconsin Student Association (WSA) is a government body representing the then 39,000 students at the University. It controlled a budget of more than $70,000 of student funds. In the spring of 1978, a party named Pail and Shovel swept the WSA elections, getting 1,500 of the 4,500 votes cast. They were re-elected in 1980 for their second term. The Pail and Shovel campaign consisted of bribing voters with play money and slinging mud. “Campaign promises” included installing escalators on Bascom Hill, misusing their funds, flooding Camp Randall for faux naval battles and having all deans stuffed and mounted. These promises never materialized.

The Pail and Shovel Party was a student government organization dedicated to absurdity.

Party leaders were James Mallon and Leon Varjian. Their most well-known stunts are the ones you mentioned, the flamingos on Bascom Hill and the Statue of Liberty on Lake Mendota. They also had a toga party in 1979 and 1980, called Toga I and Toga II, respectively.

Since then, Jim Mallon has gone on to directing. In 1986, Mallon directed the horror film Blood Hook. Mallon also produced and directed Mystery Science Theater 3000.