Ricky Salzillo Memorial Game Dinner returns after 3-year hiatus

Event in Johnston man's memory will be held in Cranston on Feb. 5


It seems like excitement is running rampant everywhere in and around Johnston and Cranston these days.

One reason, in particular, is that one of the town’s most special and time-honored traditions will be back on Sunday, Feb. 5 inside the well-appointed Santa Maria DiPrata Hall located at 34 Walnut Grove Ave. in Cranston.

It’s called the Richard “Ricky” Salzillo Memorial Game Dinner that began back in April 1976 in honor of the then 24-year-old Class of 2010 Johnston High School graduate who was killed in a Feb. 10 of that year in an automobile accident on Route 295.

However, the COVID-19 Pandemic has forced postponement of the dinner in each of the last three years, but organizers are bringing it back in hopes of continuing the highly successful Salzillo Memorial Scholarship and raising additional funds for Hasbro Children’s Hospital ALS, Needy Veterans, FARA (Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance) and the Race for Matt and Grace, just to name a few important non-profits.

As they’ve done through the years, Steven M. “Steve” Placella, Vin LaFazia and brothers Fede, Frank and Nick, who own and operate Kingstown Liquors in North Kingstown, are again leading what promises to be one of the most memorable dinners ever.

For starters, as Placella related, “there will be no NFL football played on the day of the dinner as Feb. 5 is between Championship Sunday and the Super Bowl.”

In what is a new twist this year, as Placella said earlier this week: “Old friend Ralph DeFusco of Ralph’s Kitchen and Catering will handle this year’s menu and that means we’ll all be treated to some great food.”

People who have been to previous Salzillo Memorial Game dinners will concur the event is unlike any other and features fine food, classic camaraderie and a robust raffle with prizes ranging from small propane grills to camping refrigerators to furniture racks filled with choice wines and liquors all under the work of the Fede brothers.

This year’s event will also be different than previous dinners, as seating will be limited 200 people at a cost of $40 each as compared to what once was a crowd of nearly 300 people plus.

That’s because the Santa Maria DiPrata Hall has less seating than the Kelley Gazzerro VFW Post where the event was held for years.

So, it’s all systems go and Placella announced that “only 22 tables with 10 people each will be sold this year and as has been the case in past years we’re expecting to have another sell out. Also, please remember no tickets will be sold at the door.”

Thus, what began as a mighty memorial at the Ruffstone Tavern in honor of a big, muscular, talented and enormously popular man that has become a treasured tradition and led to building the Salzillo Fitness Court, lights for the basketball court inside War Memorial Park and big bucks for the scholarships awarded annually to JHS grads is back after a three-year hiatus.

If you’d like to be part of what has been called “an extraordinary “large family reunion” please call Pacella at 401-946-0404, 401-255-3478 or LaFazia at 401-233-2564 to reserve one of only 22 tables that will be sold.