The Ancient Order of Hibernians, Carbon County Division 1 and the Ladies Ancient Order of Hiberians, Mollie Maguire Division 1, Carbon County, has announced that Hugh Donald Dugan, financial secretary of the A.O.H., has been selected to serve as the grand marshal of the 13th Annual Carbon County St. Patrick's Day Parade, to be held on Sunday, March 14, at 1 p.m. in the historic section of Jim Thorpe.
"It's an honor," Dugan said of the announcement. "I am really happy and thrilled. I'm excited about it and can't wait for parade day.
"I've been heavily involved with the parade as a co-chair and with the A.O.H., but I never expected this honor. I'm very excited."
Dugan, who is a native of Jim Thorpe, added that the opportunity to lead the parade will mean a lot to him because of his upbringing in the Jim Thorpe community.
"The thing that makes this even nicer is that I'll be parading through my hometown," he said.
Ron Sheehan, charter member of the county A.O.H. and 2007 parade grand marshal, said the group's decision to name Dugan as this year's grand marshal was an easy one.
To be eligible for this honor, the person must represent the A.O.H's motto of friendship, unity and Christian charity.
"I believe the committee made an excellent choice in Hugh," Sheehan said. "He was instrumental in organizing the parade and A.O.H., something that he still serves on today. He is very proud of his Irish heritage and is very concerned in the relations of Northern Ireland to the extent that he has played host to both Catholic and Protestant children of Ireland. I think that says a lot of his love for his heritage and for his country. He was an excellent choice."
Dugan now joins the elite group that has led the annual St. Patrick's Parade down Broadway, which includes Sheehan, Carbon County Commissioner Charles Getz, the volunteers of the Jim Thorpe Fire Department, the late A.J. Baddick, Owen McClafferty, state Rep. Keith McCall, Patrick Campbell, Francis Helferty, and more.
The grand marshal and his aides will be honored at the Grand Marshal's Dinner to be held at 6 p.m., Saturday, March 6, at Kelly's Irish Pub Banquet Room, Route 209 in Lansford. Cocktails will be offered at 6 p.m., followed by the dinner at 7 o'clock. Entertainment by Tom Huber will follow.
To purchase a ticket, contact Dugan at (570) 325-3359, Sheehan at (570) 325-4244 or at Molly Maguires Pub and Steakhouse, 5 Hazard Square in Jim Thorpe. Bus transportation is also available to and from Kelly's for a minimal cost. For more information on transportation, contact Bernadette Behan at (570) 325-4563.
To place an advertisement or congratulatory note in the commemorative program or to become a sponsor, contact Behan at the aforementioned number or e-mail Darren Behan at firstname.lastname@example.org . Deadline for placing ads is Feb. 26.
About the grand
Born on July 29, 1943, Dugan is a son of the late Dennis and Margaret (Hogan) Dugan.
He was raised in upper Jim Thorpe and attended Immaculate Conception Elementary School. He graduated from Jim Thorpe High School in 1961.
Following graduation, he enlisted in the United States Coast Guard and served on active duty for 22 years, until retiring in 1984 as a master chief petty officer (E-9). During his time in the service, he served in New Jersey; New York; Washington D.C.; at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.; and in London, England.
He was awarded two Coast Guard Achievement Medals, five good conduct awards, the Coast Guard Humanitarian Service Medal, the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation, and the National Defense Service Medal.
Following his time in the service, Dugan was employed as a window clerk at the U.S. Post Office in Jim Thorpe, retiring from his post after 20 years.
Hugh and his wife, Fran, have been married over 45 years and have resided in Jim Thorpe since 1977. They have three daughters, Theresa, Denise, and Maureen; and a son, Michael. They also have nine grandchildren.
The Dugans are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Jim Thorpe.
Dugan has dedicated his life to helping the community he lives in, as well as the children in Ireland.
He is a charter member of the Ancient Order of Hiberians, Carbon County, having served as its first vice president; two terms as president; and currently serving as its financial secretary. He was also the co-founder of the organization and has cochaired the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Jim Thorpe for the past several years.
He has also served as the division representative for the Children Friendship Project for Northern Ireland, a project that brings a Catholic and a Protestant teenager from Northern Ireland to a host family for six weeks. He and his wife have participated in the program on two separate occasions, serving as a host family for two teenage boys on one occasion, and two teenage girls on another occasion.
The Dugans continue to maintain their relationship with each of the teens they hosted and refer to them as their children.