Sep 4, 1979
On the morning of the first day of classes passer-bys were treated with the site of 1,008 plastic pink flamingos placed on Bascom Hill by members
of the Pail & Shovel Party
. By 2 p.m. that day they were gone, taken one-by-one by students. They appeared for years
afterwards in dorm rooms, apartments, and everywhere around campus. Today the
Wisconsin Historical Society
has one in their collection.
The Pail & Shovel Party’s vice president, Leon Varjian speculated they were “blown north by
The idea for the flamingos came from Jim Mallon and Leon Varjian but the perpetrator of the stunt was Michael LaViolette. He drove a rented truck
down to Morton Grove, Ill to get the flamingos from Pink Inc. The flamingos weren't assembled and they had to spend several hours putting them
together. He drove the truck right onto Bascom Hill. "Up and down, tossing the flamingos out. I remember being pretty nervous."
Sep 1, 2009 Madison City Council Makes Plastic Flamingo Madison's Official Bird
30 years, almost to the day. The new mascot was debated for five minutes, and then the Common Council voted 15-4 to make the
plastic pink flamingo the official city bird. Columnist Doug Moe proposed the idea in a column, Alder Marsha Rummel brought it to the council.