University of Wisconsin students were welcomed by hundreds of pink flamingos perched on Bascom Hill Tuesday in a unique advertisement by UW Housing.
Bascom Hill, which historically has been used as a platform to publicize events and raise awareness due to its heavy foot traffic, was covered in nearly 400 pink flamingos to promote UW’s newly branded Flamingo Run convenience stores, according to a UW statement.
The statement said the spectacle, taking place on the first day of class for UW students, was a smaller recreation of a 1979 event in which the Pail and Shovel Party, a student government party on campus, covered the same grassy area with approximately 1,008 flamingos in celebration of an election win.
According to UW Housing spokesperson Brendon Dybdahl, the UW brand convenience store, which is now open in Gordon’s Dining and Event Center and Dejope Hall, was named in honor of that historic event. He added its naming was the beginning of an effort to incorporate more of UW’s history into the daily lives of students.
“It was sort of a ‘welcome to the first day of classes,’ and also a big promotion of the Flamingo Run, our convenience store,” Dybdahl said. “Yesterday was the 33rd anniversary of the planting of Bascom.”
According to Dybdahl, the planting, which received significant of student attention, was paired with a campus-wide contest for students to guess the number of flamingos. Housing and Dining staff also dressed in flamingo-themed shirts for the occasion, he added.
Dybdahl said in addition to encouraging students to explore the stores and the new buildings, the flamingo planting acted as part of an even bigger effort to spread awareness about campus and regional history.
“There was a lot on social media, with sharing pictures, getting the message out, partially trying to figure out what was going on,” Dybdahl said in reference to the students’ reaction. “We felt pretty good about stirring up some interest.”
According to UW Housing Area Coordinator Scott Seyforth, this kind of historical awareness event will also be seen at Dejope Hall with a focus on Native American history, reflecting the hall’s name.
Dybdahl, who will foresee other events centered on the Native American theme of the building, said UW Housing has been thinking about hosting speakers and even performances. The hall previously hosted the Ho-Chunk Nations at Dejope’s official dedication ceremony, which was held for members of the summer campus community.
According to Seyforth, a second dedication ceremony with the Ho-Chunk Nation will be held for the students this semester to spread the word further about the history.
“At Dejope, there will be several events for member[s] of the community to explore Dejope and why we named the building,” Seyforth said. “One of them is going to be a white oak planting ceremony with Ho-Chunk Nation.”
According to both Seyforth and Dybdahl, the branding and naming has seen a positive reaction from students.
As for the flamingos, Director of UW Housing Paul Evans said more appearances are in the works, including a potential flamingo scavenger hunt.