The Greek American Heritage Society of Philadelphia

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Mary Parras

Photo Tour 2019

Mary Parras

Mary Parras “Parras Greek Radio Hour” Family Member

Mary Parras, a first-generation Greek-American, whose family had come from Monastiri, grew up in the historic neighborhood of what was then “Greektown” Philadelphia. Born Mary Kalaidzes in 1931, Mary’s whole world revolved around the Greek community and her church, St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, on 8th street. “We had everything we wanted, we didn’t know we were poor. And on Sunday’s everybody got dressed up.”

Mary Parras is a well-recognized figure around Philadelphia. Her name, Parras, is part of the history of Greek radio in Philadelphia. In 1939, Greek radio was started by her husband Bill (Vasili) and his brother Nick—the “Parras Greek Radio Hour.” Broadcast at 1340 AM on the radio dial, WTEL Radio station on Broad Street, was the home of the Greek Radio Program. They promoted the show from their Electrical supply store on Locust street which doubled as a Greek convenience store. “We sold everything there, from Greek records to Icons.”

Whether a wedding, baptism or other news, you heard it through the famed Locust Street store. When musicians came through the city from Greece, the electric shop would get first wind of their visit and sometimes even feature them at the studio on Broad Street during the Sunday radio hour. The Parras Family Radio hour ran from 1939 to 1973. It was followed by many other Greek radio and media programs. They helped root us as Hellenes and provided a home away from home for those first immigrants.

Today, Mary is a great-grandmother, church choir member, and Philoptochos member of St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church. Her relationship with the Greek community and faith are still embedded in her soul.