Dig Baton Rouge

Fierce Fans: The other Mad Hatter

Images: Sean Gasser

Justin Peck has made hundreds—if not thousands—of friends during more than two decades tailgating before LSU games.

He has the hats to prove it.

Peck is part of the Tigerholic Tailgaters, which set up shop each home game along Nicholson Drive between Nicholson Extension and South Stadium Drive near the EMS setup.

Peck is known for wearing a signature white straw hat, which he has people sign throughout the season.

By year’s end, the hat is covered in names and is literally a symbol of the memories that he and his friends have made while celebrating the Tigers.

“I have six hats now,” Peck said. “Some games, I bring all of them out and watch people look for their names. It’s a great tradition.”

Peck has been part of the LSU football tailgating scene for quite some time. He said he’s been out there before home games for more than 20 years. For 16 seasons, the group has been positioned at its current location on the stadium side of Nicholson. 

The idea for a hat started many seasons ago at random. Peck bought a cheap white hat to try and keep cool in the Louisiana heat. His brother placed a little sketch on the front, then signed his name on it to mark that the sketch was his. The rest, as they say, is history. Others saw the signature, then started to sign their own name to mark that they were part of Peck’s tailgating experience in that year.

“It was essentially a blank canvas,” Peck said. “When James put his signature for the drawing, everyone else followed suit. Throughout the season, friends and visitors who come by the tailgate get to sign the hat. The first hat lasted about three years. Now, after each season, I retire that hat and start a new one the next season.”

The fun with the hat is only a small part of the wonderful times the Tigerholic Tailgaters enjoy each season.

Peck said he has been on campus for some of the best moments in recent LSU football history—including two national title teams and several others which competed for SEC Championships and earned places in prominent bowl games.

Peck said because of the on-field success LSU has had in recent years, it’s impossible to pick one game that stands out more than the others when it comes to the tailgating experience.

He said he takes most pride in meeting people and making friends all around the country, introducing the best of Louisiana to people who may be visiting the state for the first time.

“It’s tough to give a best memory, looking back at all the people we have met over the years,” Peck said. “Whether it’s the tailgate crews around us that have become family over the many years or the first-timers coming to experience that feeling of LSU on a Saturday night. To me, I enjoy passing around a cold beer and a hot plate to visiting teams’ fans who have never had catfish bouillon or shrimp creole before. To me, those are the best memories.”

And there are many more to come, certainly. Peck said he believes LSU football will continue to succeed in the post-Les Miles era, touting that he believes new-coach Ed Orgeron will do a nice job.

“There’s nothing better than having a Cajun at the helm,” Peck said. “Coach O has done a fantastic job putting the right people in place and I can’t wait to see the outcome unfold.”

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