All in stride

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“Walk with Cops”, an unmatched time-honored tradition Johnston Police Chief Richard S. Tamburini started in 1995, closed out its 23rd season last Thursday morning inside War Memorial Park.

The weekly Thursday morning event, which begins in the spring and runs through September, is much, much more than just a walk in the park.

It is people like coordinators Marie Conti and Linda Folcarelli will tell you, “community camaraderie and caring at it best” as well as a continental-like breakfast served to many of Johnston’s senior citizens by valuable volunteers such as Adeline Zanni and John Teolis, just to name a few, and many members of the nationally-accredited JPD.

Throughout each of the season, Walk with Cops features special themed days featuring unique decorations, special table coverings as well as centerpieces that have become the events trademarks and Conti’s classic creativity.

Take last Thursday morning’s season finale, for example.

It was vintage Conti, who works in the JPD Community Policing Office and has been ably assisted by Folcarelli this season, at last Thursday’s final Walk with Cops for 2018.

“Marie always makes this special – for everyone!” exclaimed Folcarelli, who also works in the JPD Community Policing Office. “I wonder if she knew there would be a slight chill in the air today?”

Conti, you see, covered each of the long-tables – which are set up with chairs every Thursday during the Walk with Cops season by Johnston Recreation Department staffers – with special plastic coverings featuring a fall theme and words like “Harvest Blessing”, “Gather Together” and “Give Thanks” that seemed to go hand-in-hand with the day’s program.

Likewise, she had small glass vases filled with artificial, multi-colored leaves as centerpieces and Conti – along with Folcarelli and Zanni – later gave each of the morning’s attendees a Mardi Gras-like necklace before conducting the traditional raffle that is and has been one of the many fun-filled moments during the program.

Of course, no Walk with Cops would be complete without Tamburini issuing a softly-toned command, “OK, let’s walk”, that is as unique as the ageless event because it includes some seniors being pushed in their wheelchairs by volunteers and the JPD command and others using their walkers.

Pat and Chris Giardina, who have been regulars at Walk with Cops through the years, said it best about last Thursday’s season finale while chatting with Evelyn Baldini – younger sister of legendary sports apparel executive Fred Baldini of B & B Sporting Goods fame.

“This would be difficult to match in other community,” said Chris Giardina, who is recovering from a knee replacement and enjoys making hats, t-shirts and signs such as the Walk with Cops banner that’s always displayed on the event’s morning breakfast table. “This is a one of a kind event thanks to Chief Tamburini.”

Last Thursday’s event also featured much more in the way of breakfast items, thanks to businesses – and proprietors like Dennis Sampalis of Dunkin Donuts, David Levesque of Brewed Awakenings and Peter Cristolfi of McDonald’s who donated everything from flavored muffins, orange juice, coffee, and those egg and ham McMuffins that everyone enjoyed.

And, as is always the case during the two-hours of Walk with Cops, JPD officials including Tamburini, Deputy Chief Joseph Razza, Major Matt LeDuc, Capt. Richard Norato, Sgt. Luca Lancellotti and Patrolman Chuck Psilopoulos always make the town’s seniors feel extra special during the an incomparable community gathering.

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