The Real Voice of New Jersey

Posted: 2 December by Brett Hoover in Alumni, Harvard
Tags: ,

Tim McLoone was a key member of one of the greatest distance groups assembled in Heps history. Along with the likes of teammates Royce Shaw, Dave Pottetti, James Baker, Doug Hardin, Keith Colburn, Dave McKelvey, William Burns and Tom Spengler, Harvard won four straight Heps Cross Country Championships from 1967 to 1970.

McLoone has never stopped running. In fact, those former teammates would have a hard time keeping pace with him at this time of year. That’s because from Thanksgiving to Christmas for 16 years running, McLoone has led his Holiday Express ‘domestic army’ across the state of New Jersey to bring music, gifts and joy to those who most could use holiday cheer.

They play in the neighborhood of 50 gigs in 30 days, establishing relationships and forging friendships with the disabled, the homeless, the aged and the terminally ill.

McLoone — a musician-turned-restauranteur along the Jersey shore — founded the Express in 1993 and now it numbers more than 1,000 volunteers, including nearly 100 musicians with a variety of disciplines, from pop to rock, from jazz to gospel.

He explained the origins of Holiday Express to journalist Steve Adubato last fall:

I was working with the Nets in connection with a feed-the-homeless event on Christmas Eve 1991. There were hundreds of people in the room, and there was no music. So the next year I brought a boombox, and I thought, how foolish! I am a musician, what am I doing bringing a boombox? So in 1993 we brought a band, and the attitude of my bandmates was pretty much like, “Hey, if we are learning all these songs, why are we only performing them on one day?”

Next week Holiday Express will perform its 700th show. That means show No. 1,000 will probably take place in 2016.

Yep, Tim McLoone is in for the long haul.

A fun little Google search update:

During the 1968 cross country season, Richard T. Howe of the Harvard Crimson wrote: “Tim McLoone is the comedian and entertainer. Just when his teammates were beginning to tire of his Ed Sullivan routine, along came a new batch of sophomores for an audience. “Spider,” who picked up his nickname from his uncontrolled running style, spent the summer as a singer-pianist at a club in New Jersey. A lifelong fan of rock-and-roll music and pop culture, McLoone had his finest hour when he appeared at a party last winter in his complete Superman costume.”

  1. Erik Roth says:

    Cheers for this well deserved and timely post about the legendary “Spider,” as we called him back in our “glory days.” The nickname referred more to his walking gait (often working through injuries), than to his racing form. As a lesser light on Harvard’s stellar team, I am proud to have been one of his running mates. He’s the only man to have beaten Frank Shorter on the track and played with Bruce Springsteen on stage. But best of all, he’s one of the finest and funniest people I know.

    • Brett says:

      Hi Erik… I have a friend who is a volunteer for Holiday Express and she is an enormous fan of Tim. The story came to me late during the holiday season last year, so I have followed his efforts through Facebook leading up to this season. He makes me want to start a HepsTrack Alumni Award program!

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