STAR OF BROOKLYN: Frankie Marra

Frankie Marra – Executive Board Member for Fundraising forUnited War Veterans Of Kings County

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Marra – who is also a board member of theBay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and director and producer ofthe Greater Bay Ridge Fourth of July Family Picnic and Concert –admits he never attended Bay Ridge’s Memorial Day parade until thispast May. Now in its 144th year, the parade is the oldest in thenation to be held continuously. A Bay Ridge institution for thelast 19 years, it wasn’t until financial problems put the event’sfuture in jeopardy that Marra, whose father is a World War IIveteran, started paying attention. I just couldn’t believe it,recalled the Dyker Heights resident. It’s just one of those thingswhere you just shake your head and say ‘what? We don’t have themoney?’ Marra wasted no time, holding a benefit at the Salty Dogon May 1 with his band and contributing $1,000 of his own money tokeep the parade alive. With the contributions of local residentsand several elected officials, parade organizers were able toacquire the $20,000 needed. At least we had a chance to redeemourselves and save the parade, he said. It’s not one of thesethings where someone else got the parade and it has left BayRidge. Now the executive board member for fundraising for UnitedWar Veterans of Kings County, the organization that runs the event,Marra says he has promised that as long as I’m alive, that paradewon’t leave Brooklyn.

PERSONAL: When he was 25 years old, Marra — a Sunset Parknative — got married and moved to Dyker Heights. He and his wifehave remained in the area for the last 32 years, raising twodaughters, ages 25 and 30. But as much as he loves the area, hesays that affection isn’t confined to his own neighborhood. It’snot only Dyker Heights [I love], Marra explained. It’s Brooklynin general. I grew up playing stickball in the streets, listeningto the Mister Softee trucks.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: As a man who admits he is relatively new tothe world of community activism, Marra feels the greatest challengeis keeping people interested in the cause. He says that while[the parade] may be fashionable for the next couple of years,you’ve got to keep people interested.

GREATEST INSPIRATION: It is the wisdom that Marra has acquiredby the age of 57 that he credits for inspiring the work that hedoes. You start to think about your legacy, he explained. Whathave I done to make a difference? He says that, at the end of hislife, he wants to be able to recall having made a difference. Whenyour time is up, it’s like tax time, Marra said. You hope youhave more plusses than minuses.

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