MADISON, Wis. — What began as a prank has become part of University of Wisconsin-Madison lore. And now this quirky campus classic is set to come alive once again when pink flamingos return to roost this week on Bascom Hill.
This time, they’ll be flocking to their grassy home as part of the University of Wisconsin’s Annual Campaign.
For the second year, alumni and friends are encouraged to “Fill the Hill” by making a gift to the university via the Annual Campaign’s website.
For every qualifying gift and pledge from 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 6, through 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 7, volunteers will place pink flamingos on Bascom, starting at the bottom of the hill near Park Street. Flamingos will flock upward to mark progress toward 100% of the goal for 800 gifts and pledges by the end of the event on Tuesday.
New this year, contributors who give or pledge $250 or more will receive a branded pink flamingo lawn ornament with a special hangtag that lists the donor’s name, and for UW-Madison alumni, their graduation year.
“Appreciating traditions like flamingos on Bascom is just one of many shared Badger experiences,” says Jim Kennedy, senior managing director of marketing and communications for the University of Wisconsin Foundation and Wisconsin Alumni Association. “By participating in new traditions, like Fill the Hill and the Annual Campaign, alumni and friends all over the world can share their pride in the university and show their support for UW in a spirited way.”
The Bascom Hill pink flamingos first appeared on Sept. 4, 1979, as part of what is widely considered to be one of the most successful pranks in the history of the university. Sponsored by the Pail and Shovel Party, the event tapped deeply into the UW’s reputation of being a creative and inspired place. The bird was honored as the official bird of Madison in 2009.
During Fill the Hill, the flamingos represent the impact of philanthropy, which plays an important role in supporting the university. Annual campaign gifts provide campus leadership with needed resources and flexibility to improve students’ educational experience and to recruit and retain the top faculty who inspire them.
Those who give on Tuesday can track the Fill the Hill progress and see the flamingo population grow at allwaysforward.org, and follow the campaign on Twitter using #YouShareUW.
The Annual Campaign is a collaborative effort of the University of Wisconsin Foundation and the Wisconsin Alumni Association. In 2014, the campaign seeks participation from more than 37,500 alumni and friends, and gifts will support the university’s priority annual funds.