Humble beginning leads to bright futures: a history of Round-Up


by Gregory Hoffman, Jr.
Eagle Editorial Board

It was a cool day in March. One of those days where the cool breeze balances out the hot sun- a quintessential Houston spring day where the sky is as blue as the Texas sun is hot and finding a cloud in the sky is quite the task.

As students begin to file into the bleachers, the anticipation is killing them. No one knows what to expect. In the distance, students hear a repetitive pulsing and beating.

To the right, students see a helicopter tearing through the sky; as it slows down and lands on the football field to the shock of 10 list

Out from the helicopter jumps Rev. Kevin Storey, C.S.B., with the same big, white smile on his face that lights up the hallways. He exclaims to the students that they have broken the record and lets out his famous “are you ready?!?” met with riotous cheers from the students.

This is Round-Up and productions like these have become a part of Round-Up assemblies in recent years, but it was not always that way. For almost a century, Round-Up has been the event that united generations even with the changes of the event.

Trace back to Houston 1927. The Basilian Fathers had just passed their first quarter century of educating young men and the strain of more than 25 years on their wallets was immense.

To counteract this, the Basilians decided to hold a bazaar and use the funds raised from it to help pay for the general expenses of maintaining a school. Additionally, they received a loan from the Basilian General Council so that they could purchase and auction off a Ford Model T.

Letters were sent out to mothers of students and the first committee for the Bazaar convened. The mothers voted that Mrs. Cratty would be the chairwoman of the event, and the Bazaar was to be held later that year.

Throwback to the days of 1987 when Round-Up even made it atop billboards. Photo courtesy STH Archives.

The Bazaar was held in May and the night was described by the first school newspaper, The Tom Weekly, as “a night when the College campus was covered with a bright array of colors flowing from booths of candy, cake, ice-cream and fancy work.”

Students flocked onto the campus and ate cakes and other foods brought in by the mothers. A spaghetti dinner was held and it became a staple of the Bazaar.

The tradition continued into 1928 and the Bazaar once again experienced great success. After this year though, the Bazaar was not held for 17 years possibly due to the effects that the Great Depression had on the community.

The Bazaar resumed in 1945 and eventually evolved into Fall Fiesta which was just a new name, but the event stayed the same. The Basilian Fathers continued to hold the event annually, and it was always met with great success.

Fall Fiesta grew to have raffle tickets sold in order to help raise funds. For a few years during the 1960s, candy was sold instead of raffle tickets.

In 1966, the Fall Fiesta was moved to the spring in order to be closer to the Rodeo. During the 1970s, the school decided that it was time for a name change.

Round-Up was chosen to be the new name of the fundraiser, due to its relation with the western and cowboy culture that always takes over Houston during Rodeo season. Some believe the school was “inspired” by the University of Texas’s annual spring festival and fundraiser of the same name.

During the 1970s, the school decided to put assistant football coach John Carrigan in charge of the event. He turned the assemblies into something exciting for the students, and Round-Up began to resemble its modern day 10 list

“Most of are assemblies were in the gym,”Director of Alumni Relations Willie Madden ’82, said, “but students would perform skits and nothing was done on film.”

“One of the skits that Coach Carrigan did was he imitated the television show from the time, Fantasy Island. He would pretend to be the main character of the show and he’d make a fantasy of a student come true.”

The assemblies were remained the same for the next 30 years but they really began to change when Storey took over Round-Up in 2007.

“Father Storey believed that the assemblies needed to be exciting and something to look forward to,” Director of Student Activities Joe O’Brien said. “He is responsible for turning it into the production that it has become.”

Storey’s wild antics included jumping through a hoop that was on fire, repelling down from the top of Reckling Gymnasium and taking on the Houston Roller Derby girls.

Under the direction of Storey, a video series was introduced into the assemblies wherein Storey would take on a teacher dressed up as a villain trying to destroy Round-Up.

Storey’s departure in 2010 was a huge loss, but thankfully football coach Tim Fitzpatrick took the reins and continued the tradition that had been established.

Fitzpatrick dressed up as St. Thomas’ version of the Caped Crusader, Eagle Man, and took on villains trying to ruin Round Up. Fitzpatrick had this role in Round-Up for two years.

The new man in charge of Round-Up is everyone’s favorite theology teacher, Casey Johnson. He has decided to take on the role of Indiana Johnson and defeat the backwoods Jebadiah Green.

The faces of Round-Up will come and go, but from its early beginnings in 1927 Round-Up to current day, Round-Up has always been something special.

“Round-Up has always been magical from the standpoint of the student’s enthusiasm,” O’Brien said. “I have never been around a fundraiser where the kids own it, they get into it and they go above and beyond what is asked of them.”