Frank Sinatra Jr. will be grand marshal of Nevada Day Parade

Carson City special events coordinator Kevin Ray got an exciting call this week.

"My cell phone rang and this voice says to me, 'Hi, this is Frank Sinatra. Is Kevin there?'"

When he hung up a few minutes later, Ray had secured Frank Sinatra Jr. - son of American icon Frank Sinatra - as the grand marshal of this year's Nevada Day Parade.

"Knowing that we're going to have him here is very exciting," Ray said. "We're honored to have him - especially because our theme this year is 'Entertainment, Nevada Style.'"

Sinatra, 61, will attend an invitation-only grand marshal's reception at the Plaza Hotel's new convention center on Oct. 29. The next morning he'll be featured in the annual parade.

Organizers expect to have a nice car for him to ride in, though it's too early to say what.

"It just came up - we literally had a 'yes' yesterday," Ray said.

While often overshadowed by his legendary father, Sinatra Jr. is an accomplished singer and actor. Having studied music since age 5, Sinatra Jr. has released five albums, acted in nine movies and appeared on numerous television shows. He made aviation history in 1971 by being the first act on an American Airlines 747 equipped with a flying lounge.

Ron Bowman, president of the Nevada Day board, hopes to get Sinatra in town early enough to compete in the Nevada Day Golf Tournament.

"I mean, Frank Sinatra Jr. - I don't really know that much about the man but the name, the name. Everybody knows that name."

Bowman said it wasn't easy to get him.

"We spent a lot of time talking to his people, then finally I had pretty much given up on it. And then out of blue he picked up the phone and called Kevin Ray."

There are no plans for Sinatra to perform in Carson City. The cost of a performance was too high for the board, Ray said.

He was put in touch with the famous performer by Nevada Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt, a friend of Sinatra. Hunt teamed up with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman in 2001 to name Dec. 12 ''Sinatra Day'' in Nevada in recognition of Sinatra Sr.'s influence in Las Vegas.

Sinatra Jr. has also influenced Nevada. Many will recall his 1963 kidnapping from Harrah's Lake Tahoe in Stateline. On Dec. 9 that year he was eating dinner in his room at Harrah's, where he was scheduled to perform, when two men kidnapped him at gunpoint and put him in the trunk of their car. He was kept in the trunk as they drove to Los Angeles, where he was released when his father paid $240,000 ransom. The kidnappers were later captured.

Because the kidnappers required all negotiations be done over pay phones, Frank Sinatra Sr. started carrying a roll of dimes during the escapade - a habit he maintained the rest of his life. After his death in 1998, his daughter Nancy ensured he was buried with a roll of dimes.

Sinatra Jr. has recently appeared in HBO's hit drama "The Sopranos," as well as the Howard Stern-produced comedy "Son of the Beach." He still performs across the nation, singing with a full band in shows focused mainly on a tribute to his father.

With the theme "Entertainment, Nevada Style," the Nevada Day board is looking for all kinds of entertainers to participate in the parade.

"We're seeking all sections: rodeo, cowboy poetry, fishing and hunting, gambling - anything people come out here to do to entertain themselves, that's entertainment," Ray said.

Anyone interested in participating should call the Nevada Day office at 882-2600.

Contact Karl Horeis at khoreis@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

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