“Come on and dance,” suggest the lyrics of one of Steve Miller x’67’s hit singles. And inspired by the tune, WFAA offered the same invitation to alumni and friends at the end of the 2017 Homecoming parade, when a new event, the Homecoming Block Party, provided musicless dancing and more — including a benefit concert featuring Miller.

Though the Block Party took place on October 20, 2017, it was the result of many months of preparation. Buoyed by unseasonably mild weather (the high temperature hit 76 degrees) and an advertising blitz that promoted it to alumni and Madisonians, the event attracted people in large numbers. The parade followed its traditional path, marching down State Street to campus, leading participants to the Block Party, which took place in Alumni Park, One Alumni Place, and Memorial Union.

Homecoming revs up with a new Block Party.

The event featured a silent disco (in which participants wore headphones and danced to tunes only they could hear), a fireworks show over Lake Mendota (the first Homecoming pyrotechnic display since 2009), a cooking demonstration by Madison chef Jonny Hunter ’05, MPA’11, and a fish fry dinner in Memorial Union.

That night, WFAA estimates that:

  • 11,500 people watched the parade, and
  • 3,000 of them continued to Alumni Park for the Block Party;
  • 619 people went into One Alumni Place, where Hunter held his demonstration, and
  • 457 went to the fish fry in Tripp Commons.

Toward the end of the night, on the other side of the Union Terrace, the Steve Miller Band performed in the Wisconsin Union Theater’s Shannon Hall. Attendees at the sold-out show didn’t just get down to “Swingtown.” They also helped to raise scholarship funds for UW–Madison students. Proceeds went to aid the Chancellor’s Scholarship Fund, and the concert raised nearly $750,000 in ticket sales and donations.