Weighing in at around 178 pounds, this life-sized Bucky Badger isn’t your run-of-the-mill mascot. His name is Lucky Bucky, he’s six-and-a-half feet tall, made of fiberglass and is covered from head to toe in pennies.
He belongs to MRA member Summit Credit Union and is a much-loved part of the organization’s everyday work life. He’s often seen with kids around looking up at him and creating photo ops with credit union members. (People off the street often pop in to check him out too!)
Here’s the story of how Lucky Bucky came to be.
The Summer of 2018 Belonged to Bucky
Lucky was created to be a part of Bucky on Parade, a free public art event featuring 84 other very unique Bucky Badger statues placed throughout Madison and Dane County, Wisconsin, in 2018. Local and regional artists transformed these Bucky statues into works of art, bringing the community together, more so than anyone anticipated.
Madison was abuzz over these brilliantly different and beautiful Bucky Badgers on display around town. People came from all over to find and take pictures with each one. There were maps to help find them, checklists to make sure visitors had seen them all, kids’ activity books and coloring pages. Bucky on Parade got families outside walking around, off their devices and engaging with their neighbors. It was a delight to see.
“We were considering getting a Bucky when an employee shared a message about how cool it would be if we could have a Bucky as a permanent fixture in the lobby of our new headquarters in Cottage Grove, WI,” said Nancy Kasten, SVP-HR & Organizational Development at Summit Credit Union. “While there were others that were really neat, Lucky Bucky was our number one choice. By far.”
Being covered in pennies helped make Lucky a terrific fit for the credit union. You can’t help but think about the famous quote from Benjamin Franklin—a penny saved is a penny earned. That’s pretty poetic for a financial institution.
In September, when Bucky on Parade came to an end, community members had the opportunity to attend a fundraiser and bid on the Buckys at the event’s auction. With their marching orders in hand, Summit Credit Union’s CEO and COO went to the Bucky on Parade auction, with hopes to purchase their six-foot copper-clad friend. They didn’t know if someone else had plans (or a bigger budget) to steal Lucky out from under them. Gladly, the two did not disappoint, and after the auction, Lucky was officially a Summit Credit Union family member.
Without a doubt, Lucky brings a positive, upbeat vibe with him. During Bucky on Parade, it was very common to see people around town stopping and staring in awe, laughing, taking pictures, and pointing in amazement. It really connected the Madison community and now Lucky engages Summit Credit Union employees and members.
“Another reason that makes Lucky perfect for us is because Bucky on Parade benefitted some fantastic local charities,” said Kasten. “We take supporting our communities seriously and this was a fun, meaningful way to do that.”
Lucky Bucky’s Fun Facts:
- Lucky has 11,759 pennies covering him.
- One penny is a Canadian penny. (Summit Credit Union employees invite you to come and find it!).
- The artist, Emily J. Wirkus, is from Green Bay, WI., and purposefully put almost all the pennies heads up for good luck.
- She made an exception — there are four pennies tails up, one of each Lincoln penny designs:
- Wheat (the oldest penny on Bucky)
- Lincoln Memorial
- Union shield
- Lincoln bicentennial that came out in 2009 with four designs of its own
- There is only one penny on Lucky that’s cut in half, one half is in each eye for sparkle.
- There is a small W logo on the left side of his chest made with shinier pennies.
- There is a penny on his nose from the artist’s birth year.
- Emily created this masterpiece in only two weeks.
- Pennies from different years have different weights. Who knew?!
Summit Credit Union, founded in 1935, was once based only in Madison, WI. Today, the credit union has 40 locations throughout southern Wisconsin.
The Madison Area Sports Commission produced Bucky on Parade, with support from the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau and in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin Athletics, and Wisconsin Foundation & Alumni Association. Event proceeds supported Garding Against Cancer, Madison Area Sports Commission, and other community charities.
By Sue Piette, Writer