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Madison fourth-grader named grand marshal of UW Homecoming Parade

October 6, 2010

Bucky Badger is the subject of many legends on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus, but few compare to one created by Gwen Heidinger, who won the legend writing contest about the popular mascot as part of this year’s UW Homecoming celebration.

As the winner, Heidinger will lead the 2010 Homecoming Parade as the grand marshal. The John Muir Elementary School fourth-grader wrote about Bucky being a sign of hope for the state of Wisconsin when Badgers could use some extra spirit.

“When we are losing he cheers us on. When winning we win it all,” she wrote. “Thanks to Bucky we’re known as the best in the land.”

This year, the UW Homecoming Committee offered a legend-writing contest to children up to 12 years old. The contest encouraged kids to think creatively and write their own legends about Bucky, in line with the Homecoming theme “Legends of Bucky Badger,” inspired by the Wisconsin vs. Minnesota football game and the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe.

The contest was a way to involve community members of all ages in UW–Madison’s Homecoming celebration.

“We knew we wanted to do a legend contest as soon as the theme was announced,” says Homecoming Committee member Jackie Ordan. “Kids love Bucky Badger; they really idolize him. One of the entries we received talked about Bucky as if he could cure cancer. It’s really amazing the things kids will think of!”

The UW Homecoming Committee also offers an annual coloring contest, and received more than 70 entries from kids this fall. Little Badger Maya Schroeder was the winner of this year’s contest, expressing the lore of Paul Bunyan and Wisconsin traditions by drawing plaid on Bucky’s shirt.

The Kennedy Elementary first-grader will help Heidinger lead the Homecoming Parade in downtown Madison at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8. A full list of student and community Homecoming events and merchandise is available at