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Little Neck, Douglaston hold fund-raiser for parade

Honorees Lori Rodman, of the Queens Women’s Center, and...

By Kathianne Boniello

About 160 people joined the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade Committee Friday night at its annual dinner dance at Douglaston Manor to raise funds for the 76-year-old Memorial Day march.

Honorees Lori Rodman, of the Queens Women’s Center, and parade committee members Ralph and Barbara Barba were presented with plaques recognizing their contributions to the community. The trio was also presented with honorary resolutions from the state Assembly by Assembly members Ann-Margaret Carrozza (D-Bayside) and Mark Weprin (D-Bayside).

The parade committee was also presented with a proclamation from Nassau County Executive Tom Gulotta’s office and a representative of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani also read a congratulatory note from the mayor during the ceremonies.

Denise Sodaro, chairwoman of the dinner dance committee, said the 160 people who came to the party at Douglaston Manor constituted one of the largest turnouts ever for the group’s annual event.

“It was a very successful night,” she said.

While parade committee members mingled with a host of elected officials and political candidates to engage in the festivities, Rabbi Morton Pomerantz performed the blessing before dinner.

“We must remember the men who at their country’s call left their home, families and friends,” he said. “It is because of their sacrifices that we enjoy the blessings of America.”

For 76 years, the communities of Little Neck and Douglaston have recognized area veterans with a Memorial Day march that has grown into the largest in Queens and one of the biggest in the country. With 13 bands in the 2000 event, the Little Neck- Douglaston event ran an extremely close second to the Memorial Day parade in Chicago, considered the largest in the nation.

The theme of this year’s march is the 50th anniversary of the Korean War. Retired Gen. William Ward has been chosen as the grand marshal for the 2001 parade. The six division marshals for the parade include: Air Force Ace Col. Francis S. Gabreski, veterans David Gratt, Monte Leschen, Manny Goldberg, Jerry Rosamilia and Phil Rosamilia.

Carrozza, who has been chosen for the 2001 Woman of the Year award, told the crowd the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade is known throughout the state.

“This is how I identify my district to other people,” she said.

Barbara Barba, a longtime parade committee member who also runs the parade committee’s arts and essay contest in area schools, expressed gratitude for the honors she received.

“It is a magnificent parade and everyone in the community works so hard to make this come true,” she said.

Ralph Barba, also an experienced parade committee member, said the parade was important because “it keeps alive what the vets did. We don’t realize all the freedom that we have here.”

The success of the dinner dance followed a controversial parade committee meeting April 25 during which a TimesLedger reporter who was invited to the gathering was later asked to leave due to a controversy over administrative practices of the previous parade committee organizers.

Jim Rodgers and Gil Krasnoff took over the parade committee in January after Karen Bartolotta and Tom Nouza stepped down. No subsequent information as to the nature of the discussion at the April 25 meeting was given.

Contributions to the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade can be sent to P.O. Box 630144, Little Neck, N.Y. 11363-0144. For more information, call 224-6114 or e-mail Information is also available on the web at

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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