Leon Varjian, a jester with keen insight into what tickles Madison's funny bone, was responsible for many of the celebrated pranks associated with UW-Madison in the late 1970s and '80s. Varjian died in 2015, but his legacy lives on in the people who admired student government's Pail and Shovel Party. His reign in Madison was marked by an uncanny ability to surprise or push a whimsy to extreme exaggeration. Whether it was the placement of 1,008 pink plastic flamingos on Bascom Hill, an amazingly realistic, though chicken-wire, Statue of Liberty (head, arm and torch) on Lake Mendota, or hosting a Halloween toga party for 30,000 people, the enduring quality was a willingness to go overboard. Chances are you heard about the jokes even if you didn't know his name.
Pink flamingos, Statue of Liberty, boombox parade: The legacy of Madison prankster Leon Varjian