Fire Bowl set to kick off Friday

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It’s regarded as one of the most important sporting events of the year.

It’s a unique game that requires a certain amount of skill as well as luck.

It’s entitled the Fire Bowl, a flag football game featuring the Johnston Fire Fighters Local 1950 and North Providence Fire Fighters Local 2334 that began back in 2014 in hopes of putting food on people’s tables during the holidays.

With the battle lines drawn once again – and Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena wagering an ongoing bet with his North Providence counterpart and friend Mayor Charles Lombardi – the chant Monday was “Are you ready for some football?”

Fire Bowl V will kick off tomorrow night at 7 o’clock at Mayor Joseph M. Polisena Stadium that’s located inside the Johnston High School campus and the admission fee is as unique as the fun-filled flag football game which was founded by Johnston’s Dave Pingitore and North Providence Anthony “Rampi” Rampone.

“There isn’t a monetary charge to get into the game,” Pingitore said. “What we suggest – as well as hope – fans from Johnston and North Providence bring at least two cans of two non perishable food items that will be given to the Tri-Town Community Action Agency’s Food Cupboard.”

Pingitore announced Monday amid the good natured ribbing that took place inside Johnston Town Hall during the annual pregame press meeting that the Johnston Fire Department will have a rescue truck on duty at Polisena Stadium where people can leave their nonperishable food donations.

People may also make a monetary donation to many of the fire fighters from each town that will be on duty during Friday night’s game.

In keeping with tradition, Mayors Polisena and Lombardi – as they’ve done in recent years – kicked off the important food drive by announcing they will donate $100 each to the Tri-Town Community Action Agency Food Cupboard that helps those people in need in both Johnston and North Providence.

“That’s why this (Fire Bowl) football game is so important,” Polisena said. “Mayor Lombardi and I hope people will turn out in record numbers and donate (non-perishable foods) on Friday night.”

Lombardi then added: “Joe (Polisena) and I realize the importance of Tri-Town’s mission, especially when it comes to providing food for those people and families in need. Please, come out and support this food drive as well as supporting the Johnston and North Providence Association of Firefighters that do such a great job every day of the year.”

The Fire Bowl began in 2014 with North Providence eking out a 7-0 win. Since then, Rampi’s roster defeated Johnston in every game. The respective scores have been: 2015, NP 13-0; 2016, NP 7-0-; and 2017, NP 18-0.

All of which has resulted, as Lombardi laughed Monday: “Joe (Polisena) having to wash my car.”

Since the Fire Bowl was established, the bet has been that the winning mayor gets his town vehicle washed by the losing town’s mayor and perhaps that’s why the North Providence mayor is confident of yet another win by his Fire Fighters Local 2334.

“I’ve got the sponge and bucket in my car if you want to see them,” Lombardi said as representatives from both locals as well as Polisena laughed. “We’re going for five straight, Joe.”

To which Polisena responded: “We’ve been gracious hosts thus far, but my guys are ready for Friday night’s game. We’re hoping for a big win – on the football field and as far as donations of non-perishable food items are concerned.” 

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