Tickets expected to go fast as Salzillo Memorial Game Dinner anticipates record crowd

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Few fundraising events, if any, rival the 43rd Richard D. Salzillo Memorial Game Dinner, which will take over Kelley-Gazzerro VFW Post 2812 on Sunday, Jan. 26, beginning at noon.

The brothers Spirito – Greg and Dave, who own and operate Spirito’s Restaurant & Catering, based inside the famed VFW post – are one of the reasons why people pack the post every year.

The classic camaraderie and family reunion-like atmosphere also factor into why the dinner has raised thousands of dollars for everything from college scholarships and helping children who are battling cancer, to folks affected by Alzheimer’s and ALS to the highly-acclaimed veterans program known as Wreaths Across America.

The dinner is held in honor of Richard D. “Rick” Salzillo, who was killed in an automobile accident on Feb. 10, 1976. The event has become a “rite of winter,” held every Sunday before the Super Bowl since its inception.

Two important staples of the dinner, though, are a couple of native Johnstonians – namely the Fede brothers, Frank and Nick – who own and operate Kingstown Liquors on Post Road in North Kingstown.

“Some people call the Fedes our Unsung Heroes,” event co-chair Steven Placella, a Vietnam veteran and current co-chairman of the JMCE Golf Tournament, said. “Their work on the raffle pushes our profits through the roof.”

Make that what previous attendees have often referred to as “The Raffle of the Year.”

For example, the raffle – which Placella said has seemingly unlimited prizes – will have everything from liquor baskets and wooden cases to mini-refrigerators and propane gas grills.

“The secret is,” co-chair Vin LaFazia, who has long since retired from his days as a leader of the Johnston Parks & Recreation Department, declared. “Frank and Nick are supported in the raffle by their respective distributors who understand the value of this extraordinary event that last year raised a record $13,000 plus that all went to various nonprofits around the state.”

Tickets are only $35 for the dinner and raffle tickers will be sold separately. Although last year’s dinner was such a smashing success that people had to be seated both upstairs and downstairs at the Kelley-Gazzerro Post, Placella and LaFazia urged people to purchase their tickets as soon as possible because “we will no doubt be sold out again on Jan. 26.”

For tickets, please call Placella at 255-3478, Vin Jackvony at the Johnston Parks & Recreation Department at 272-3460 or the Kelley-Gazzerro VFW Post 2812 at 942-9500.

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