Johnston’s Ricky Salzillo Memorial Game Dinner returns in 2022


One of Rhode Island’s most successful and ageless fundraising dinner traditions will be back in 2022 after a year’s hiatus due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“We are proud — and happy to announce — that the Ricky Salzillo Memorial Game Dinner is coming back!” said Steven M. Placella, a Johnston-based attorney and one of the event’s founders. “We are hoping to sell out again so we can continue our scholarship program and charitable giving for important non-profits.”

Back in 2020, for example, the Salzillo Memorial Game Dinner resulted in 10 $500 scholarships for Johnston High School graduating seniors.

Likewise, donations were made to the Race for Matt & Grace, ALS Rhode Island and the Oncology-Hematology Departments at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, the latter through Johnston Memorial Cancer Events.

“In 2020, a total of $11,000 was given out, either as scholarship stipends or to these organizations,” Placella explained. “In prior years, in addition to providing the annual scholarships, contributions were made to the Johnston Recreation Department for the creation and betterment of targeted facilities at Johnston War Memorial Park.”

Proceeds from the ongoing tradition, which people will attest is like a huge family reunion in Johnston, the dinner has also resulted in donations to Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance, the J. Arthur Trudeau Center and Rode Island Military Organizations.

“So,” as Placella said with a smile on his face, “get your tickets now; we’re hoping to sell out again this time around.”

The dinner is set for Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, and will begin at 12 noon at its long-time home inside the famed Kelley-Gazzerro VFW Post 2812 located on 1418 Plainfield St. on the Johnston-Cranston line. Tickets are $35 per person.

When asked why organizers scheduled the unique event for Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022, Placella quipped: “We have intentionally chose this Sunday in February because there are no NFL games that day, as it is the Sunday between Championship Sunday and the Super Bowl.”

Placella then announced that “once again Frank and Nick Fede — former Johnston residents, JHS grads and long-time owners of Kingstown Liquor Mart on Post Road in North Kingstown — will again sponsor and provide a seemingly endless array of raffle prizes that are always a center point and highlight of the afternoon.”

“They come up with coolers, grills … even small refrigerators and racks full of wine and liquor,” said Vin LaFazia, a key member of the organizing committee. “People are always amazed with the raffle prizes they get for the dinner.”

Moreover, Placella said, “Greg Spirito, formerly of Spirito’s and now of Cozy Caterers, will prepare, cook and serve another great dinner as he has in year’s past. The menu will include chopped antipasto, venison chili, wild boar spitzatta with mushrooms, pasta with venison meatballs and sausage and venison meatloaf with potatoes.”

“We’re inviting everyone to come to this event and catch up with friends, meet new ones and remember our beloved brother Ricky whose life was cut much too short,” Placella went on. “For sure, he’ll be looking down on us — as always — hoping for another successful event that will help others, just like he did before he was tragically killed in an auto accident in April, 1976 when he was just 24 years old.”

Thus, Placella said, tickets are priced at $35 per person and can be purchased at the Johnston Recreation Department office in person or calling 401-272-3460, The Kelley-Gazzerro Post at 401-942-9500, or Placella at 401-255-3478.


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