Shotgun Tom aims for Mother Goose

by Rick Griffin

Brrrrrrreeeeha , you better believe it, baby!” El Cajon resident Tom Irwin, known to millions of radio listeners as Shotgun Tom Kelly, will serve as grand marshal for the 67th Mother Goose Parade in El Cajon this Sunday, Nov. 24. Tens of thousands of parade goers will see Irwin with his trademark Smokey Bear-style hat.
Featuring a combination of floats, clowns in miniature cars, horses, local celebrities and marching bands, the parade is considered the largest parade in San Diego County and the second largest west of the Mississippi, behind the Rose Parade in Pasadena. A holiday tradition held on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the parade will begin at Main Street and Magnolia Avenue, then will continue down Main Street to Second Avenue and will end at Madison Avenue. As usual, Santa Claus will close out the parade. For more parade information, visit the Mother Goose Parade Association’s website,
Earlier this year, Irwin was honored by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce with his own star on the legendary Hollywood Walk of Fame, number 2,496, at 7080 Hollywood Blvd., at the corner of Hollywood and La Brea boulevards. The star ceremony, with guest speaker Stevie Wonder, coincided with Irwin’s 40th anniversary in radio. The San Diego native attended Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in City Heights and St. John of The Cross in Lemon Grove. At age 10, he created his own mock radio station with two record players and a microphone in his bedroom. He graduated from Mt. Miguel High School in 1968, and worked in Merced, Oxnard and Bakersfield before joining KGB Radio at age 21. By 1970, he had adopted Kelly as his radio name. He worked at several San Diego radio stations, including KPRI, KGB, KFMB, KCBQ, KBEST and B-100, before moving to Los Angeles 16 years ago to host the afternoon drive-home shift on CBS Radio’s K-EARTH 101 (KRTH-FM). Irwin and wife Linda still call San Diego home and return on weekends to their Fletcher Hills home.