Madison's Own Pink Flamingos

One of the most well-known pranks in University of Wisconsin-Madison history began early on the morning of September 4, 1979. The Pail and Shovel Party, which ran UW's student government at the time, planted 1,008 plastic pink flamingos on Bascom Hill in front of the dean’s office and in doing so made the pink flamingo a legend in the Madison area. This photograph shows student Joan O’Donnell taking a snack break on Bascom Hill on that very morning.

Among the most well-known pranks at UW-Madison was the 1,008-strong flock of pink flamingos that appeared in September 1979, on Bascom Hill. Varjian, who helped pull off the stunt, said the problem of storing the 84 dozen flamingos was solved when students began taking them. -- L. Roger Tuner / Wisconsin State Journal

Among the most well-known pranks at UW-Madison was the 1,008-strong flock of pink flamingos that appeared in September 1979, on Bascom Hill. Varjian, who helped pull off the stunt, said the problem of storing the 84 dozen flamingos was solved when students began taking them.

L. Roger Tuner / Wisconsin State Journal

Since the initial appearance of the pink flamingos, they have become a point of pride in the Madison area. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has used them as a way to motivate alumni gifts through their annual Share the Wonderful Campaign and the Madison City Council has even designated the plastic pink flamingo as the official city bird. It may not fly or be native to the area, but this plastic pink bird has definitely made a home in Madison.

Don’t miss this and other interesting historical moments in the hardcover book, Madison in Focus.

Madison in Focus: A City’s Story Told Through Photography Cover
Wisconsin State Journal presents Madison in Focus: A City’s Story Told Through Photography

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