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Wisconsin’s beloved mascot returns to the streets of Madison in a big way

July 12, 2023 By Seth Kruger

From left, Baller Bucky, Flamingo Bucky, and Bucky Come se Picasso.

Five years ago, Bucky the Badger took on a multitude of forms and found himself spread across the streets of Madison for the public art project Bucky on Parade.

“Game Day Bucky,” “Baller Bucky,” “Bucky de los Muertos” and more versions popped up across the city for everyone to enjoy.

This year, Destination Madison rejuvenated the program for a limited time on its five-year anniversary, introducing a digital, mobile-friendly pass and online map that Bucky fans can use through Sept. 15. The app requires a free sign-up, accessible through Destination Madison’s website.

“When we launched Bucky on Parade five years ago, the response from residents and visitors alike was incredible, even better than we had anticipated,” said Kate Dale, Destination Madison’s vice president of Marketing & Brand Strategy. “It proved to be a great way for people to explore Madison and come together through their love for Bucky Badger and Madison exploration, as well as offer an opportunity to raise money for local charities.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the project for people to find many of the statues using a new digital passport platform and hope it brings just as must joy as the first time around.”

This virtual pass can be used to locate returning Bucky statues that have remained available to the public. Once users visit these statues, they can check in on their mobile device and earn an exclusive Bucky On Parade Anniversary sticker.

Even if you don’t earn a sticker, visiting these statues is well worth any Badger fan’s time. The Bucky On Parade website provides statue locations for the public statues available out of the 85 total statues.

For the sports lovers, “Game Day Bucky” located outside the University Bookstore, “Baller Bucky” at UW Health on the east side of Madison and “Jump Around Bucky” just outside Capitol Square are trademark statues to cross off a bucket list.

For those who enjoy the more artistic pieces, “Bucky Come Se Picasso” on the west side of Madison, “Bucky De Los Muertos” on Regent Street and “Bucky Lloyd Wright” on the east side of Madison are popular statues to grab a photo with.

In addition, there will be one new Bucky On Parade statue appearing soon to mark the fifth anniversary of the project and the 175th anniversary of the University of Wisconsin. Look for it at the 175th anniversary celebration on July 26 on campus, where you can have your photo taken with it at an open-air photo booth.

This original project in 2018 was a free public-art event where Bucky lovers could find the statues of different types scattered around Madison for fun and photo opportunities. The statues, designed by local and regional Madisonian artists, represented the art, culture, heritage, food and spirit of the city of Madison through visual representations of Bucky in different settings and scenarios.

Bucky On Parade was produced by the Madison Area Sports Commission with support from the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau and partnerships with the University of Wisconsin–Madison, UW–Madison Athletics and the Wisconsin Foundation & Alumni Association. Many sponsors contributed to the project.

These producers, sponsors and partners, along with the artists who created the statues themselves, then sold the statues, with proceeds from the project going to charity. More than $1 million was raised, and a good part of it went to Wisconsin men’s basketball head coach Greg Gard’s Garding Against Cancer foundation and the Madison Area Sports Commission.

Photo of Bucky posing next to the statue.

Bucky enjoys a moment with Graduate Bucky. Photo: Bryce Richter