Johnstonians join the line at Columbus Day Parade

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Johnston Town Councilwomen Linda Folcarelli and her sister Donna can usually be found attending fundraising events or helping such award-winning nonprofits as the Giovanni Folcarelli DAV Chapter 1 or the Italo-American Club of Rhode Island in Providence.

Likewise, five-time World Champion powerlifter George Lazzareschi, a Johnstonian who serves as superintendent of public safety in Providence and Italo-American Club vice president, can be found at the Ocean State Gym in Johnston preparing for yet another competition that will benefit nonprofits like A Wish Come True.

Moreover, George Arakelian, who owns and operates A Custom Car Stereo Center on Atwood Avenue in Johnston, can usually be found or installing an automatic starter on a car or truck. However, Sunday he drove a Hellcat Dodge with several of his neighbors who double as club members.

Those four folks were just a small sampling of the many Johnstonians who made an appearance Sunday in Providence’s annual Columbus Day Parade on Federal Hill.

“It’s all part of our proud Italian heritage,” said Lazzareschi, who drove a striking red Ferrari that carried Italo-American Club president Anthony “Nappy” Napolitano and WPRI celebrities Mike Montecalvo and Tony Petrarca. “Everyone is Italian today!”

Few people, if any, would dispute that theory given the thousands of people who lined Federal Hill for a parade that included many Johnston residents being part of the actual line of march.

Carmine DeRobbio of the Johnston Senior Center and Linda Folcarelli carried the Italo-American Club banner, while her sister Donna – the club’s treasurer – rode in a car along with other officers, as did Steve “The Sheik” Mullane, who drove a number of officials in his prize-winning Cadillac convertible.

There were all sorts of current and former beauty queens riding in convertibles, and among that group was Gina Sabitoni-Arakelian, the 2016 Mrs. Rhode Island USA and a current regional and national powerlifter.

There were militia groups, police and fire personnel from a number of towns and cities. One group that drew rave reviews from countless parade watchers was Johnston High School’s national award-winning Marching Panther Band under the expert leadership of Director Ron Lamoureux.

“That [Johnston] band is extremely well-dressed,” Robert D’Uva, president of the Federal Hill Merchants Association, offered. “The town should be proud of the way the musicians are dressed; they’re sharp-looking and their sound is crisp and special.” 

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