The University of Wisconsin’s Alumni Association will bring back the ‘Fill the Hill’ event this Thursday and Friday. Pink, plastic flamingos will be placed all over Bascom Hill to carry on the 42-year-old tradition that moved online last year amid the pandemic.
The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association, also known as WFAA, holds this event each homecoming week to fundraise for various causes. A pink flamingo will be placed on Bascom Hill to represent every donation the Alumni Association receives during the event.
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The tradition started in 1979 when UW students covered Bascom Hill with 1,008 pink flamingos as a prank. WFAA then decided to use this escapade as a way to garner donations and give back to UW.
Starting this year, a special-edition red flamingo along with other red flamingo-themed goodies will be given to donors who give $250 or more to the event, according to a UW Alumni Association announcement.
In an email statement to the Badger Herald, WFAA Director of Media and Public Relations Todd Pritchard explained the purpose of the new red flamingos.
“These flamingos are part of our celebration of the All Ways Forward campaign — and the incredible generosity of our supporters, who have helped UW–Madison remain one of the world’s leading institutions of higher education and research,” Pritchard said.
Pritchard said funds raised will immediately help address UW’s greatest needs, and there are more than 100 areas of campus participating this year. Featured areas of support include the Chancellor’s Annual Fund, Great People Annual Scholarship Fund and the Raimey-Noland Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fund, Pritchard said.
The Alumni Association always hopes to receive at least 1,008 gifts to match the original number of flamingos placed on Bascom Hill during the 1979 prank. Typical years see well over 1,000 donations, Pritchard said.
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While the event still took place virtually last year during the pandemic, the eye-catching pink flamingos were not able to be placed on Bascom Hill. Pritchard emphasized the excitement of bringing back the flamingos this year.
“We are so excited to have the flocks of flamingos back on Bascom after a year off due to the pandemic,” Pritchard said. “While it was still a huge success last year, it still doesn’t beat the sight of those pink flamingos on the hill.”
The event starts Thursday, Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. and ends Friday, Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. Donations will be accepted through the Foundation’s website.