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103 years of tradition lives on for UW-Madison’s Homecoming

October 20, 2014

Photo: UW Homecoming Parade

The UW Alumni Band performs before thousands of spectators lining State Street during the 2013 UW–Madison Homecoming Parade. This year’s parade will march down State Street starting at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24. 


The gameday opponent may be a first-timer, but this year’s University of Wisconsin–Madison Homecoming tradition is 103 years in the making.

Photo: UW Homecoming badge

Thousands of alumni will return for the annual commemoration of Homecoming at UW–Madison, when UW graduates join future alumni and the campus community for a weeklong celebration of spirited Badger traditions.

 Tradition lights up the night on Friday, Oct. 24, as the annual Homecoming Parade makes its way down State Street starting at 6 p.m. The parade is free and open to the public, and all are invited to watch along Gilman and State Streets as classic cars, floats, the UW Marching Band and Bucky Badger bring UW cheer to the heart of campus. (For the safety of all, select downtown streets will be closed during afternoon and evening hours.)

Organized by the student-led UW Homecoming Committee, the parade will feature Grand Marshal Casey Rotter, a 2005 UW graduate and recipient of the Forward under 40 award from the Wisconsin Alumni Association. Now in New York City, Rotter is a major gifts officer and manager at UNICEF’s Next Generation, a fundraising initiative focused on engaging young donors.

Rotter will be joined in the parade by Mini Marshal Lucy Rhoades of Janesville, Wisconsin, a fourth-grade artist and aspiring actress, who earned her role with a winning entry in this year’s Homecoming Coloring Contest. Rhoades, an open-heart surgery survivor, learned about the contest when her brother was visiting doctors at American Family Children’s Hospital.

On Thursday, Oct. 23, Rotter will headline Homecoming’s inaugural “RED Talks,” where she’ll share inspirations from her experience raising more than $1 million to support UNICEF’s humanitarian programs for children around the world. Open to the public, the RED Talk will begin at 6 p.m. at Gordon Dining and Event Center, 770 W. Dayton St.

Alumni will also gather during the weekend for a UW Multicultural Homecoming Celebration, featuring a keynote address Oct. 25 by Winslow Sargeant, chief counsel for advocacy for the U.S. Small Business Administration, who received his Ph.D. at UW–Madison in 1995 and is a College of Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award honoree.

Other featured events open to alumni and the community include:

  • Blood Drive: All are welcome to donate blood to the American Red Cross Oct. 21-22 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Ogg Hall lounge. Appointments are preferred but walk-ins are welcome.
  • Pep Rally: This post-parade event at Memorial Union Oct. 24 will feature a Fifth Quarter performance by the UW Marching Band, free concerts, and scheduled appearances by Badger football coach Gary Andersen, as well as emcees and nationally syndicated radio hosts Elvis Duran and Bethany Watson.
  • BADGER HUDDLE: Presented by the Wisconsin Alumni Association, this Wisconsin-style tailgate buffet at the Field House Oct. 25 from 8:30-10:30 a.m. is the official UW pregame party. It’s the only event in town that will feature appearances by Bucky Badger, the UW Spirit Squad and the UW Marching Band before the Wisconsin vs. Maryland contest at Camp Randall Stadium. Visit to purchase tickets.

Alumni, students and friends will share their spirit on social media all week long via @WisAlumni and @UWHomecoming using #UWHC. And with new discounts at Madison-area retailers, all fans are welcome to don The Red Shirt, Seventh Edition, the official shirt of Homecoming, which supports need-based Great People Scholarships for UW–Madison students.

Homecoming events are organized by the Wisconsin Alumni Association and the UW Homecoming Committee, a 45-member nonprofit, student-run organization. The committee will again honor exceptional UW–Madison juniors and seniors as the newest inductees of The On Wisconsin Society.

Wisconsin alumni and fans across the United States will gather at dozens of game watch locations. WAA will also welcome back alumni for the Multicultural Homecoming Celebration, and dozens of chapter leaders for the annual Alumni Volunteer Leadership Conference. In addition, thousands of UW graduates will be back on campus to reconnect with the university, campus departments and affiliated organizations.

Learn more here.