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Little Neck march under new leadership

After about six years at the helm, Bartolotta and Nouza...

By Kathianne Boniello

The largest Memorial Day parade in Queens and second-largest in the country will be under new leadership this year after longtime organizers Karen Bartolotta and Tom Nouza stepped down last month.

After about six years at the helm, Bartolotta and Nouza turned the organizational reins of the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade over to two members of the parade committee, Jim Rodgers of Auburndale and Gil Krasnoff of Little Neck.

The parade has marched down Northern Boulevard every year for more than seven decades in recognition of the area’s veterans. With 13 bands in the 2000 event, the Little Neck - Douglaston event has been running an extremely close second to the Memorial Day parade in Chicago, which has been considered the largest in the nation.

New organizers Rodgers and Krasnoff said the parade committee was in the early stages of discussing a theme for this year’s parade as well as the selection of the 2001 parade marshals. Rodgers has been a member of the parade committee for about three years, while Krasnoff has been a member for about 15 years.

Krasnoff credited the parade committee, which has been meeting every Wednesday since January in the St. Anastasia’s Annex on Northern Boulevard, with helping to make the event happen.

“We’re just steering the ship,” he said, “but the ship is what’s important. It’s a community thing.”

Rodgers, an Auburndale civic leader, said taking over the Little Neck -Douglaston Memorial Day parade meant filling some big shoes.

“Karen and Tom have been doing a super job,” he said. “Everybody’s doing a super effort. There are a lot of details, and a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes.”

The new organizer praised the Little Neck-Douglaston event as “a great way to spend Memorial Day” and said the march “really brings the community together.”

Bartolotta, of Little Neck, and Nouza, of Bellerose, are close friends with a long history of involvement in the parade. The pair took over the organization of the march in the early 1990s after longtime organizer Jim Flaherty, who died in 1999, retired from the post.

Bartolotta, who is still involved with the parade, said she had been thinking about giving up the job of organizing it since last year.

“It’s time for something new,” she said. “That’s the way I feel. I’m very proud I have that behind me. There are some very fond memories there.”

Nouza, who is currently ill in the St. Albans Veteran’s Home, said he and Bartolotta were turning over the parade “to guys that want to take it over.”

Bartolotta said the essential component to a successful Memorial Day Parade — especially one as large as the Little Neck - Douglaston event — is the support of the community.

“It’s a very big job,” she said. “It’s a hell of a community we live in — they always came through for us. I want to thank them for all the support.”

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

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