Statue of Liberty returns to Lake Mendota

This marks the return of a decades-old tradition

The Wisconsin Union is bringing back the decades-old Statue of Liberty tradition to Lake Mendota Friday as part of the annual Winter Carnival.

The Statue of Liberty tradition started as a prank in 1979 by the Pail and Shovel Party led by University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni Leon Varjian and Jim Mallon. The two promised they would bring the Statue of Liberty to Madison if elected to the Wisconsin Student Association.

After the election, the Pail and Shovel Party brought a Styrofoam Lady Liberty head, arm and torch on Lake Mendota Feb. 22, 1979.

Statue of Liberty returns to Lake Mendota

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Lady Liberty returns to frozen Lake Mendota as an inflated replica of the Statue of Liberty is erected near the Memorial Union during the Hoofers’ Winter Carnival on Feb. 1, 2019. The periodic return of Statue of Liberty replica honors a famous February 1979 prank by candidates of the Pail and Shovel Party, who vowed at the time to bring back wackiness to UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Student Association if they were voted into office. Time-lapse video by @jeffmiller_uwmad #uwmadison #wisconsinunion #uwhoofers #statueofliberty

A post shared by UW-Madison (@uwmadison) on Feb 1, 2019 at 8:58am PST

This year, Mills Botham, the Wisconsin Union president and a senior at UW-Madison led the effort to create the new inflatable version.

“The idea to return Lady Liberty to Lake Mendota as part of Winter Carnival is one that I’ve been working for about two years,” Botham said. “This was the first year that I found a practical means of making its revival possible.”

Statue of Liberty returns to Lake Mendota

Before this version, the Statue of Liberty was last seen on Lake Mendota in 2010. The Union team is hoping to make Lady Liberty on Lake Mendota an annual Winter Carnival tradition.

The Statue of Liberty is available for viewing Feb. 1 from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Feb. 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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