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103 Years of Tradition Lives On for UW-Madison’s Homecoming

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

Contacts: Sarah Schutt, (608) 263-2043,; Kate Bradley, President, UW Homecoming Committee, (520) 591-9101,; Sierra Powel-Smith, Vice President, UW Homecoming Committee, (920) 539-4335,

MADISON, Wis. — The game-day opponent may be a first-timer, but this year’s University of Wisconsin-Madison Homecoming tradition is 103 years in the making.

Thousands of alumni will return for the annual commemoration of Homecoming at UW-Madison, set for Oct. 19-25, when UW graduates join future alumni and the campus community for a week-long 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 Next Generation, a fundraising initiative focused on engaging young donors.

Rotter will be joined in the parade by Mini Marshal Lucy Rhoades of Janesville, Wis., a 4th-grade artist and aspiring famous actress, who earned her role with a winning entry in this year’s Homecoming Coloring Contest. Lucy, an open-heart surgery survivor, learned about the contest when her brother, who is autistic, was visiting his 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 West Dayton Street.

Alumni will also gather during the weekend for a UW Multicultural Homecoming Celebration, featuring a keynote address on Oct. 25 by Winslow Sargeant PhD’95, chief counsel for advocacy for the Small Business Administration, and School of Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award honoree.

Other featured events open to alumni and the community include:

  • Community Service Day, presented by the UW Office of Sustainability: Badgers gave back with a day devoted to community service in locations across campus and Madison on Oct. 19. Volunteers received this year’s edition of The Red Shirt™.
  • Blood Drive: Want to save a life? All are welcome to donate blood to the American Red Cross on Oct. 21-22.
  • Pep Rally: This post-parade event at Memorial Union on 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 Wisconsin Field House on Oct. 25, from 8:30-10:30 a.m., is the official UW pre-game party. It’s the only event in town that features appearances by Bucky Badger, the UW Spirit Squad and the UW Marching Band, before the Wisconsin Badgers v. Maryland Terrapins 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 student-led committee will again honor exceptional UW-Madison students of junior or senior standing 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, while on campus, 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.

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