This past summer, 85 uniquely created Bucky Badgers were dispersed around Madison and Dane County, each created by a different local artist or organization. The response from community members reached an unexpected level, while supporting non-profit organizations Saturday night.
Bucky on Parade was produced by the Madison Area Sports Commission, with support from the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau (GMCVB). All event proceedings from sponsorships and the auction are being donated to Garding Against Cancer, Madison Area Sports Commission and other local charities.
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According to director of public relations and communications for the GMCVB, Robert Gard, they determined the total number of statues by looking into locations to place the statues, as well as the total number of sponsorships received.
With the overwhelming amount of submissions, all unique and creative, the GMCVB was able to add more statues without sponsorship assistance.
The exhibit created a lot of excitement from the community, according to Gard. He saw families and community members looking at the statues every day this summer. There was also a great amount of participation on Instagram — more than 12,000 people tagged “Bucky on Parade.”
Overall, the responses, both in person and on social media, had surprised all contributing parties.
“I think everyone involved in this process was stunned and overwhelmed by the response,” Gard said.
The Bureau ran a raffle for those that fully completed the parade and received 12,000 submissions over the summer — a number that blew their mind.
Gard said that while there was a group of University of Wisconsin students that successfully saw all 85 statues in one day, one of the more feasible and interesting ways to see them was the route many families took.
“We figured kids would enjoy this and it would be a really good family experience, but so many families made this a summer-long event,” Gard said. “I think that was the best way to do it because you weren’t just checking statues off your list, you were visiting parts of Dane County that you normally don’t get to see.”
The university campus, in particular, experienced an increase in visitors during this time, according to Gard. Usually, summer is a down-time for campus, but with a different Bucky to be found in seemingly every part of UW, more and more people came to appreciate the campus, including its landscape and architecture.
This response and involvement from the community would not have been possible without the cooperation and work on behalf of the University of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association and UW Athletics.
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Gard said the project primarily focused on the unknown response of community members, students and alumni to seeing Bucky in non-traditional settings.
“The university was relinquishing control of their icon, their mascot,” Gard said. “How would people that were used to seeing Bucky in a red and white sweater react to all these different interpretations of him?”
30 of the 85 non-traditional Buckys were auctioned off on Saturday at the Bucky on Parade Finale Party.
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The online auction of 10 statues had begun throughout the prior week and had been going “amazing,” according to Gard. Each statue started at $4,000, and on Friday, some statues had already reached bidding prices of $25,000.
The event was sold out a week prior, with around 900 people anticipated to attend. Aside from proceeds donated to Garding Against Cancer and the Madison Area Sports Commission, the highest bidder of each statue was able to donate 10 percent of his/her bid to a non-profit of choice.
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In addition to the auction, there was food and entertainment, including a performance from the Madhatters, one of the university’s a cappella performance groups, and a rumored appearance from Bucky Badger himself. Attendees were also able to bid on a range of 40 additional auction items.
Gard predicted that some of the statues will likely end up in the community, and some will be left to private property. The 55 statues that were not auctioned off were sponsored at a high enough level, to begin with — they will likely remain at their public locations.
Once the GMCVB knows all the Bucky locations, there will be a digital guide to map them all out.