Tom O'Connor Group

Economic and management consulting firm

My Alma Mater! UMass Minuteman Marching Band at the Rose Parade: New Year’s Day

Also, my DW and DS graduated from UMass Amherst!


The internationally televised parade steps off at 11 a.m. EST. UMass joins 20 other marching bands selected from around the country to participate in the parade, as well as marching bands from the University of Oklahoma and the University of Georgia, the two teams playing in the Rose Bowl football game later in the day on Jan. 1.

“Since UMass Amherst is the Commonwealth’s campus, we consider ourselves to be the Commonwealth’s band,” said Band Director Timothy Todd Anderson. “We can’t wait to represent not only our university, but all of Massachusetts for millions of people. It’s our way to tell the world what UMass is all about.”

UMass Amherst, the flagship campus of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the largest public research university in New England, distinguished by the excellence and breadth of its academic, research and community programs.

Founded in 1863 and home to nearly 30,000 total undergraduate and graduate students, UMass ranks no. 27 in a field of more than 700 public, four-year colleges across the nation, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s latest annual college guide.

UMass Amherst stretches across more than 1,400 acres of land in the historic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, providing a rich cultural environment in a rural setting close to major urban centers – campus sits 90 miles from Boston and 175 miles from New York City. The idyllic college town of Amherst is home to hiking, biking, museums, music, theater, history, food, farms and much more. UMass Amherst also joins a local consortium of five nationally recognized colleges, including Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges.

Where to watch the Rose Parade beginning at 11 a.m. EST on January 1:

  • NBC television
  • ABC television
  • The Hallmark Channel
  • HGTV
  • Univision
  • RFD TV
  • Amazon Prime for members with a Prime Account
  • Streaming live at or without commentary on Facebook at

The Minuteman Marching Band is scheduled as the 11th marching unit in the parade, so be sure to tune in right at 11 so you don’t miss the band!



Michael Galetta ’19 and Jaclyn Nicholson ’19 talk about joining the family of the UMass Amherst Minuteman Marching Band and their performance in the Tournament of Roses – Rose Parade, January 1, 2018.


Talia Kuras ’18 fills us in on the Color Guard’s special role in the UMass Amherst Minuteman Marching Band, leading up to the band’s historic performance in the Tournament of Roses – Rose Parade, January 1, 2018.


The UMass Amherst Minuteman Marching Band debuts new uniforms at the Rose Parade, January 1, 2018 on ABC and NBC at 11a.m. ET. The band wishes to thank everyone who donated to the uniform fund, providing their first new look since 2000.

Merry Christmas!



Merry Christmas to all our friends, families and clients

~ Tom

Happy Hanukkah



Hanukkah 2017 begins at sunset (4:48 where I am) on Tuesday, December 12 and ends on Wednesday, December 20.

Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights.

It commemorates the victory of the ancient Israelites over the Syrian Greek army and the subsequent miracle of restoring the menorah in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

The miracle of Hanukkah is that only one vial of oil was found with just enough oil for one day, and yet it lasted for eight full days.


Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day



National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, which is observed annually in the United States on December 7, is to remember and honor the 2,403 victims who were killed in the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

On August 23, 1994, United States Congress, by Pub.L. 103–308, designated December 7 of each year as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is also referred to as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day or Pearl Harbor Day. It is a tradition to fly the Flag of the United States at half-staff until sunset in honor of dead patriots.

On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked Naval Station Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii, without warning and without a declaration of war, killing 2,403 American non-combatants, and injuring 1,178 others. The attack sank two U.S. Navy battleships and damaged five others. It also damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and one minelayer. Aircraft losses were 188 destroyed and 159 damaged.

Veterans Day, November 11


The observance of Veterans Day, Nov. 11, began almost a century ago.

In the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Allied nations and Germany declared an armistice – a temporary cessation of hostilities – in World War I. Commemorated as Armistice Day the next year, Nov. 11 became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938.

After World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to U.S. veterans of all wars.

Penn Station, NYC, Derailments and Repairs


Amtrak officials knew for years that they would have to replace large sections of deteriorating track in Pennsylvania Station in New York City. As engineering crews applied short-term fixes to rows of rotted ties, crumbling concrete and eroded steel, some of their managers repeatedly warned of the growing need to address underlying problems.

While meeting with Amtrak executives in March, Andrew Keefe, the railroad’s head of track maintenance, became alarmed, according to two people in the room. The railroad had finally begun ambitious replacement work on the most decrepit tracks, but the jobs would stretch out for a year or more to accommodate other demands.

Learning that officials were considering delaying the effort to give work time to a nearby passenger hall renovation, a project backed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Mr. Keefe lost his temper. Hitting his hand on a table, he said, “You’re not going to be happy until you put a train on the ground.”

Weeks later, the derailments started.

Three accidents at Penn Station forced Amtrak to undertake an emergency repair program and cut back service through the summer for thousands of passengers daily.

Read the article at

Happy Columbus Day!



Columbus Day is a United States observance held each year on the second Monday in October. The day signifies Christopher Columbus’ arrival to America on October 12, 1492.

Colorado first observed Columbus Day in 1906 as it became an official state holiday. More and more people and states began to recognize Columbus Day.

In 1937, Columbus Day became a federal holiday in the United States. There are many instances of people observing Columbus’ voyage since the colonial period.

In 1792, there were celebrations in New York City and other US cities, celebrating the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to join together in celebration of Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event.

During the anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic teachings were framed around themes of support for war, citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation and celebrating social progress.

In 1970, Columbus Day was changed to the current observation on the second Monday in October.


September 11 – We Remember

We will always remember 911


My wife, Mary, originally wrote this on 9/11/01…

I, too, was stunned to hear the news this morning and continuing throughout the day.

It was just something unbelievable.  My husband and I were on a Land Rover 4X4 tour of the off-road areas of Barbados when we first got the news.

At first, when we got the very first news, around 9:30 am, I thought that it was some tale that the driver was weaving…and that there would be a punchline.  As the day wore on, more interest was on the radio than on the tour.  Some of the people in our Land Rover were from New York City and they were terrified for friends and family.

What an awful day in history this is, one of those that we’ll always remember where we were when we got the news.

Like the rest of you, I am stunned, absolutely shocked that this could happen, using our own planes, no less.  I cannot imagine the terror of the people on those planes, or in the World Trade Center…or the Pentagon.

The rest of the story:

The year of 911 my mom and my son had been with us for the first week. My son had to be back at college so on Sunday he shepherded my mom through the airport, customs and all and got her back home before he headed back to UMass/Amherst on Monday. Thank goodness they got back before the mayhem started!

On Tuesday we were out on a 4X4 from Island Safari with our favorite guide, Zario. Zario is a fun guy and and very knowledgeable about Barbados and world events. We were very happy to have him again because it was the “luck of the draw” which driver/guide we got.

I remember that morning being kind of stressed already – I was having trouble with one of my contacts and I was just grumpy.

Zario picked us up first, one of the benefits of staying at The Crane – everyone picks us first for everything and drops us off last. Then he picked up another couple from New York City who were staying at Bougainvillea.

The tour started off through the fields, down cliffs as usual. Zario had the radio on in the background. When we got to the first stop he told us that there was a “problem” in New York. That it seemed that a plane had hit a building. We thought that there was going to be a punch line somewhere. There wasn’t.

As the tour went on, the news got worse. The couple from NYC was very worried about relatives.

By the time we got to lunch and met up with the other 4x4s everyone had heard. We were in a little chattal house restaurant, the TV was on CNN and everyone was just watching in silence and horror. Usually this lunch is very festive and fun. Not a care in the world. Not today.

We left the New York people off at their hotel and went “home”. The TV was full of New York news, then Pentagon news. We know people who work at the Pentagon. The news just got worse as we went along.

We were basically stuck in Barbados.  Phones to the US didn’t work well, email was slow to non-existent, all we knew was what we got on CNN, incessantly.  My mother and son had been with us the week before and had just flown back the Saturday before.  I was so glad that they had gotten back home ok, then my son off to college.

We were supposed to fly home on the next Saturday, but if was iffy if that would happen since the airports were closed for the longest time.  We were flying into the DC area. The phone lines to the Barbados airport and to American Airlines were always busy.

Finally, we decided to give it a shot, packed up and went to the airport to see if we could fly out or not.  They could only guarantee the flight as far as Puerto Rico.

The San Juan airport was crowded with Americans trying to get home, flights being canceled due to closed airports, people sleeping all around the airport, using backpacks for pillows.  It was a very difficult time.

We did finally leave for home later that night.  This is what I wrote the next day…

I flew on American Airlines last night (9/14/2001).  We left Barbados on time but the connecting flight, originating out of Aruba was very late, and we waited for a long time in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

After that flight had arrived though, we were all sitting around, hoping they’d board the plane soon.  All of a sudden, there was cheering in the hallway.  We turned to look – our pilot and crew were marching up the hallway with a huge American flag.  He stopped and talked to us.  He explained that the copilot would hang that flag outside his window as we taxied out of Puerto Rico and into Dulles.  The flag was making the rounds of American flights all over the country and that the yellow streamers hanging down were being signed by all the American crew members.  He posed for lots of pictures (I have some I’ll post later, when my eyes are less bleary!), then, as they were going to get the plane ready, he asked us in a loud voice if we were ready to fly to Washington and everyone cheered.

Along the way, he thanked us so much for having faith and flying (like we had any choice!).  The headphones for the movie and the drinks were all free on this flight!  He also told us that there were a lot of fighter planes in the Washington to NY corridor and not to be surprised if we were intercepted by one, who would just be making sure that we were “who we said we were”.  I thought that would be kind of neat to see, but I didn’t see them.  We arrived in Dulles (Washington, DC) with a jet fighter escort.  At the time, that sounded so comforting, but it turned out that they had been there to shoot us down, if we’d made any funny moves.

Then, when we arrived at the terminal, the captain said that we were back in “the land of the free, and the home of the brave” and got some more cheers.

It was a memorable flight for someone like me, who is terrified of flying under the best of circumstances.

Us, on 9/10. Who knew?

9/14, San Juan Puerto Rico:
After the crew marched down the hallway.

The captain, letting others have a chance to fly the flag.

This young woman lead us onto the plane.


Happy Labor Day!



Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September celebrating the economic and social contributions of workers.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

It was first nationally recognized in 1894 to placate unionists following the Pullman Strike. With the decline in union membership, the holiday is generally viewed as a time for barbecues and the end of summer vacations – and the first long weekend for schools in Fairfax County.

Independance Day, July 4, 2017


Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from Great Britain.

Independence Day fireworks are often accompanied by patriotic songs such as the national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner”, “God Bless America”, “America the Beautiful”, “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”, “This Land Is Your Land”, “Stars and Stripes Forever”, and, regionally, “Yankee Doodle” in northeastern states and “Dixie” in southern states. Some of the lyrics recall images of the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812.

A bit of audio for your listening pleasure, as played by Vladimir Horowitz…