The Last Great American Neighborhood

It’s 6:30 a.m. on a crisp, Sunday morning in October, and Larry Primeau is reading through his pregame checklist. Extension cords? Check. Charcoal? Check. Thermos of hot cider? Check. Ten-point deer rack mounted to a vintage Packer helmet? Check.

Primeau is preparing for his favorite day of the week: football Sunday. A devout Green Bay Packers’ fan and season-ticket holder, Primeau created his signature helmet in 1990, when he mounted a six-point deer rack to a vintage Packers’ helmet.

Six years later, when the Green Bay Packers competed in Super Bowl XXXI, Primeau upgraded to a ten-point deer rack. He also added an artificial cheese wedge and Mardi Gras beads to the helmet.

In January 1999, after just three years of wearing the updated version of the helmet, Primeau was selected by the “Visa Hall of Fans” as the Green Bay Packers’ Ultimate Fan and was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, for life.

“I still have the same helmet and go to all the games,” says Primeau, who became known to many fellow Packers’ fans as the “Packalope.”

In addition to recognition by other Packers’ fans, the media quickly took notice of the “Packalope.” Both newspapers and television broadcasts nationwide, including the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, have featured Primeau and his iconic helmet.

Although Primeau is a season-ticket holder, his favorite part of football Sunday is not the game, but the tailgating that occurs before each game.

For games beginning at noon, Primeau leaves his house at 7 a.m. and enters the Lambeau Field parking lot by 8 a.m.

“I have a pretty elaborate tailgate setup,” Primeau says. “It’s been a great time; I enjoy myself there.”

Primeau enjoys the camaraderie of the people he tailgates with like many Wisconsin sports fans.

“We all tailgate in the same area, so I’ve developed a lot of friendships,” he says. “We’re like one big family basically.”

Primeau says each tailgate adds new people to that family.

“I meet so many different people from all over the country that have either seen me on TV or in newspaper articles,” Primeau says. “I actually met a couple from Okinawa, Japan. I noticed them because they were wearing green and gold kimonos … I’ve been getting Christmas cards from them for the past ten years!”

Joe Cahn, the self-proclaimed “Commissioner of Tailgating,” is quick to note tailgating is not just a group of people getting drunk in a parking lot.

“Tailgating is the new community social,” Cahn says. “It’s the last great American neighborhood.”

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