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Horan Marches in 50th Parade
Photo: Tom HoranTom Horan ‘66 said he is to St. Patrick’s Day what Santa Claus is to Christmas. Horan, a jolly man with an infectious, hardy laugh, will be marching in his 50th and final St. Patrick’s Day Parade with the Erin Go Braugh Society of America contingent at noon on March 16 in downtown Houston.

The entire Horan family, 11 of whom graduated from University of St. Thomas, will join Tom for his self-proclaimed swan song. For Horan though, his St. Patrick’s Day celebration doesn’t stop here.
“When you’re Irish, every day is St. Patrick’s Day,” Horan said. “It’s really emotional for me, but it’s time to fold the tent. It’s time for new blood to take over.”

When he was 18 years old, Horan first marched with his father. Growing up with an Irish father and an Italian mother, Horan celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in an unusual fashion as a kid.
“Every year, we had spinach fettuccini with corned beef meatballs,” he said. “It was delicious.”

Horan’s diverse childhood translated into his life and his appreciation for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the United States. Although his father passed away 16 years ago, Horan commemorates his father’s memory with his dedication to marching. In 2011, Horan had his leg amputated and even the surgery did not stop him from participating in 2012. Horan said it’s important for him to march because it celebrates St. Patrick and what’s great about our nation.

“St. Patrick’s Day is an all-encompassing feast day,” he said. “We were not the most welcomed people when we first came to America. During St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll see the diversity of Houston. The Irish are showing everybody you can make it in America.”

Even though he’s been to Ireland a dozen times, the 68-year-old Horan said there is no place like America.

“God bless America,” he said. “We’re all proud to be Irish, but we’re more to be proud Americans.”

Horan has been involved with several Basilian institutions, as a graduate of St. Thomas High School and UST, and he attends church at St. Anne’s Catholic Church. He strongly believes and supports the mission of the Congregation of St. Basil and UST.
Founded in 1947 by the Basilian Fathers, St. Thomas remains Houston's first and only Catholic university. St. Thomas, dedicated to educating leaders of faith and character, is committed to the religious, ethical and intellectual traditions of Catholic higher education and welcomes students of all faiths.

Horan, a founding director of the William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies, and his wife Jeani, have helped develop the Center by underwriting, fundraising and participating in several events over its 10 years. In 2005, Horan was awarded with the Rev. Vincent J. Guinan Distinguished Alumni Award.

Horan thanks all those who have strengthened him over the years in marching in 50 St. Patrick’s Day parades. He leaves them with this Irish prayer:

“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

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