George and Gina Arakelian live in Johnston, but they gave the Warwick high school Bishop Hendricken a major boost Sunday at the third annual Bishop Hendricken High Car Show held on the school grounds.
The show featured an impressive 110 cars.
“This was, by far, the largest show we’ve ever had,” said Mike Benedetto, a computer science teacher at Hendricken who also taught for 25 years at Ferri Middle School in Johnston. “And much of our success is due to George and Gina Arakelian.”
George Arakelian, who owns and operates A Custom Car Stereo Center at 1174 Atwood Avenue, is among the state’s most respected car show organizers. His wife Gina Sabitoni Arakelian, who works for the Rhode Island Laborers District Council in Providence, also has vast experience in organizing car shows for non-profit groups. Their son, George Arakelian III, is a freshman at Hendricken.
“He’s a great young man. The Arakelians said they’d like to help, so I welcomed them with open arms,” Benedetto said Sunday as he and former Hendricken football coach Ron Mosca manned the charcoal grill. Hendricken baseball pitching coach Bill “Soupy” Campbell provided the music for the event, blasting doo-wop into the parking lot.
George Arakelian Jr. and his son George III actually handled the recruitment of car owners and also judged Sunday’s show.
“The Arakelians made it special. I can’t thank them enough,” Benedetto continued. “We did very well with this show.”
Three years ago, several students approached Benedetto and suggested that they do a car show to raise funds. All proceeds from the annual show are used to benefit the Inner City Scholarship Fund Hendricken uses to help children of financially strapped families obtain a parochial school education.
The Arakelians are already talking about next year’s show.
“We’re going to make it bigger next year. We were pleased with 110 cars this time, but this show can get even more cars in future years. And adding more trophies to the prize list helped this year, too,” said Gina Sabitoni-Arakelian.
When the show was over, a classic 1963 Chevrolet Impala was named Best of Show. Meanwhile, Bill Manchester’s 1955 Chevy Bel Air was voted the first place winner and Frank Acquino took home the second place honor for his 1931 Ford Coupe. Third place went to Bob Goodwin for his 1940 Packard.
“There was lots of nostalgia in the air today,” said Benedetto. “We had brand new cars from two dealerships ... there were all sorts and sizes of antique classics. We really had some sharp cars here today. Some of our alums even brought their cars.”
Sunday’s show also included quite a few Johnstonians who put their classic cars on display, including Dave Berardo and his golden yellow 1977 Cadillac DeVille.
“I bought this car in 1984,” Berardo said of the classic that featured air ride and 3.5-inch Firestone Supreme whitewall tires. “Back when it was brand new, this car sold for $13,500.”