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Last chance to bag a badger: Bucky on Parade ends Wednesday

September 12, 2018

Badger hunters are running out of time.

After three days of searching, Marcela Kyngesburye bagged her limit Tuesday at the Henry Vilas Zoo.

“I’m finally getting my last one,” Kyngesburye said as she narrated a 360-degree video of the 6-foot-tall “Pieces of Wisconsin” incarnation of Bucky Badger.

Kyngesburye is one of the more than 1,700 people who found all 85 unique Bucky statues on display this summer as part of “ Bucky on Parade.”

Wednesday is the final full day for the public art project, created by the Madison Area Sports Commission and the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Crews will begin collecting the Buckys Thursday in preparation for the Sept. 29 finale party, where 30 statues will be auctioned off to raise money for the sports commission and Garding Against Cancer, Badger men’s basketball coach Greg Gard’s cancer research foundation.

Project leader Kate Dale said the Convention and Visitors Bureau will eventually publish the locations of the statues that end up in public spaces. Meanwhile, she expects there will be plenty of traffic as people try to get a last glimpse on Wednesday.

The Buckys have been a social media hit, garnering more than 10,000 public Instagram posts. Nearly 20,000 people engaged with the Bucky on Parade Facebook page.

Visitors Bureau spokesman Rob Gard said the project was a boon to summer tourism, drawing people from around the country and enhancing the experience for visitors.

On Tuesday, Kyngesburye snapped photos of her parents, Guadalupe and George Lopez, who were visiting from their home in Queretaro, Mexico.

“Bucky on Parade has been huge,” Gard said. “There’s not a single day we haven’t seen people out checking out the Buckys.”

Emily Wirkus didn’t just find all 85 Buckys; she created one.

Wirkus had just moved to Green Bay last spring when she heard about the project from a former co-worker at UW-Madison, who was creating the “All Hands on Bucky” Bucky.

Even though it was months past the application deadline, Wirkus emailed the Bucky on Parade committee and suggested if it ever did another, similar project to cover a statue with pennies since they feature an image of President Abraham Lincoln, who signed the act creating land-grant colleges such as the University of Wisconsin.

To her surprise, the committee asked her to create a statue.

Despite having no experience as an artist, the 37-year-old public health worker contacted her credit union to ask for $125 in pennies.

“They only thought I was a little bit crazy,” Wirkus said.

In just over two weeks, Wirkus glued 11,758 U.S. pennies — as well as, for fun, one from Canada — to the statue, which she dubbed “Lucky Bucky,” and despite warnings from her fiance, Mark Norris, was still applying grout the night before the submission deadline.

Wirkus and Norris came to Madison on Labor Day weekend to check out some of the other Buckys but were hindered by rain. They returned on Sunday and spent about 12 hours searching for statues, finding the last two around 10:30 p.m.

“It was worth it,” she said.

So which was her favorite?

“Aside from my own … all of them were so unique and just so amazing,” Wirkus said. “The stories behind them are as amazing as the creation itself.”

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