Statue of Liberty to return to Lake Mendota

MADISON (WKOW) — For the second year in a row, Lady Liberty is making a comeback to the frozen ice of Lake Mendota.

The iconic statue will inflated on Feb. 6 as part of The Wisconsin Union's Winter Carnival.

The Winter Carnival runs from Feb. 3-9

The Statue of Liberty tradition began with a prank in 1979 by the Pail and Shovel Party, which was led by UW-Madison alumni Leon Varjian and Jim Mallon ’79. Varjian and Mallon made a campaign promise that, if elected to the Wisconsin Student Association, they would bring the Statue of Liberty to Madison.

After a successful election, the Pail and Shovel Party stayed true to their Lady Liberty promise by erecting a Styrofoam Lady Liberty head, arm and torch on Lake Mendota Feb. 22, 1979.

Before this re-creation of Lady Liberty, the Styrofoam Statue of Liberty was last seen on Lake Mendota in 2010.

In addition to the return of this legend to its Lake Mendota home, the Wisconsin Union’s Winter Carnival includes more than a dozen events and activities, including live music, arts and crafts and more.

Put on by the Wisconsin Union team since 1940, Winter Carnival provides ways for the community to take part in outdoor recreation and celebrate winter, according to a news release.

All members of the community, including UW-Madison staff, faculty and students as well as Wisconsin Union members and guests are invited to experience the Carnival, including visiting the new Lady Liberty on Lake Mendota.

To learn more about the Winter Carnival, including the full schedule of events and activities, visit

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