Herky’s 75th birthday part II: Behind the bird with former ‘head Herky’ Rob Peterson

Rob Peterson of Moline has tons of pictures from his three years - ‘95, ‘96, and ‘97 - as the Head Herky.
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 7:08 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Rob Peterson of Moline has tons of pictures from his three years - ‘95, ‘96, and ‘97 - as the Head Herky.

In those years, Herky was a franchise, so to speak, of the Delta Tay Delta fraternity.

“When I learned you had to be a Delt to do Herky, there was no doubt in my mind what fraternity I wanted to join,” Peterson said.

Once Peterson started as Herky, there was no stopping him.

“Every time you put this outfit on you feel like you are something bigger. Part of something bigger. I loved that,” he said. “I think every mascot would tell you that you don’t feel like you.”

Game days at Kinnick and Carver were magic for Peterson, but so were the hospital visits with sick kids.

“There are a ton of hospital memories that are seared into my mind,” he said. “You can see the impace on kids and family. It is a stark reminder of ‘wow, this is a big part of why I am doing this.’”

Another moment Peterson fondly remembers was before his final game as Herky. Longtime basketball trainer John Strief pulled him aside.

“He looked at me and said ‘hey’ - he knew I was a senior, he knew it was my last game - ‘I just wanted to thank you for everything you have done.”

As a graduate student, Peterson wrote an operation manual on Herky.

“Rule number one: don’t talk in the suit.”

When he returns to Iowa City as a fan, you better believe his eyes seek out the present-day Herky.

One of his more recent memories was with his daughter. He cherishes a framed picture of his daughter with Herkey.

“It’s fun to talk about this!” Peterson said. “Not every day someone wants to talk about my time as Herky.”