“I’m so glad to be a Badger,” said one appreciative visitor walking through Alumni Park on opening night.
After a party that inspired praise for the park’s design and look, those seven words summed up its deeper purposes: to celebrate UW accomplishments and inspire Badgers’ pride.
Braving a persistent drizzle, more than 2,600 alumni, donors, faculty, students, staff, and community members stepped out into Alumni Park during the first three days it was open to the public. Exploring installations from the fountain on Langdon Street to the Bucky statue (shown on this report’s cover and titled Well Red) on the lakeshore, guests saw the results of the work that Paula Bonner MS’78, WFAA staffers, and a host of volunteers had put in for more than half a decade — work that broke into a sprint during the 2016–17 year.
With lighting elements that shine like beacons, Alumni Park draws media attention like moths to a flame.
Alumni Park officially opened on the evening of October 6, 2017, but WFAA had spent many months beforehand preparing for a month of celebrations. The opening was followed by a retirement party for Bonner, the inaugural Homecoming Block Party after the traditional parade, and events held in conjunction with the completion of Memorial Union’s multiyear renovation.
In addition, WFAA’s digital and communications staff worked to create alumnipark.com, an interactive website that shares the stories of the 123 alumni who are featured in the physical park — and encourages visitors to share even more alumni stories of their own. Multiple media outlets covered the event on television and in print.
All told, Alumni Park generated at least 57 media mentions for WFAA in October 2017, garnering more than 10 million impressions.
But the park is, ultimately, not about an opening night or even an opening month. It aims to be a campus destination for decades — and, through the years, to make visitors say, “I’m so glad to be a Badger.”