RISRA comes out in hundreds to support Toys for Tots car show

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“This is absolutely an amazing collection,” Raymond Denisewich, a service officer with the VFW Department of Rhode Island, observed Sunday while manning a special booth inside Johnston War Memorial Park. “There are 200 classic cars and look at the back end of that pick-up truck. That is what’s so special.”

Denisewich was speaking about the bags and boxes of nonperishable food items and new unwrapped toys the Rhode Island Street Rodding Association delivered during Sunday’s 44th Annual Show, held in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps award-winning Toys for Tots program.

Ken Torino, president of the RISRA, was thrilled with Sunday’s collection of new toys that will benefit children of families in need at Christmas.

“Our members are really generous for programs like Toys for Tots,” Denisewich said while joining Torino, U.S. Marine Sgt. Christian N. Medina, Cpl. Forrest S. Brunner and Rich Esposito of the 3rd Marine Division. “This is the perfect show.”

Vintage vehicle car owners came from various parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts for Sunday’s show. There was oldies and doo-wop music pumped into the park by Ronnie Perrault, as well as the classic camaraderie that’s always present at such shows.

Among the day’s highlights were what many people called “the fabulous women’s gift baskets and gifts” featured at the silent auction table, which was organized by Jo-Anne Lombari, wife of RISRA member Dave Lombari of West Warwick.

Members judged the beautiful classics in various categories, including grill, paint, engine, dashboard, truck, license plate, headlights, taillights and hot rod.

“Aw, shucks,” Denisewich deadpanned, “I didn’t win a trophy.”

Denisewich, though, received rave reviews about his pride and joy, a gypsy red and ivory 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible. His most significant contribution to Sunday’s show, however, was manning the VFW Information Booth with officers Ernestine Vota, Gianna Melvin and Dennis Calderone.

As noted by president Joseph Torino – who is a former U.S. Marine – the RISRA is a nonprofit founded in 1973 and is a chapter of the U.S. Street Rodding Association. It is celebrating its 46th year and is the oldest street rod club in Rhode Island.

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