Game dinner to remember 'Ricky' Salzillo

Johnston Sun Rise ·


To say that the annual Ricky Salzillo Memorial Game Dinner is an extraordinary event may, in fact, be understating what proceeds have done for people since its inception some 40 plus years ago.

The event, which has been held inside the famed Kelley-Gazzerro FEW Post 2812 that’s located at 1418 Plainfield Pike on the Cranston-Johnston line, has raised thousands upon thousands of dollars that have benefited high school students, children who are battling cancer and as building blocks for recreation projects.

“It’s as unique at the man for whom the event is name and we honor – as well as remember – each and every year,” Steven M. Placella, a Johnston attorney and one of the original organizers, said. “This is a terrific tribute to Ricky and that’s because he was a very special person.”

Placella, who announced that the Ricky Salzillo Memorial Game Dinner will be held on Sunday, Jan. 28 beginning at noon inside the Kelley-Gazzerro Post, then put a smile on his face saying: “Ricky was by no means a saint. He loved to have a good time. He had a sparkle in his eyes and always a good word and a smile for most everyone.”

Perhaps that’s why the Ricky Salzillo Memorial Game Dinner has been held since the late Johnstonian was killed in a car crash back on Feb. 10, 1976 while he was driving on Route 295.

“This has been a labor of love for everyone that’s involved for 40 years and more,” Placella said. “Friends, family members … lots of people have been determined to keep his name and spirit alive. The fund-raising efforts started shortly after his death and began with construction of the Richard Salzillo Fitness Court inside Johnston War Memorial Park.”

However, that was just the beginning of what the annual Game Dinner, which has been prepared, served and is rated among the best of such events due to the efforts of Chef Ralph DeFusco who owns and operates Ralph’s Catering, has meant for countless numbers of people.

“The profits from the Game Dinner have gone to good causes,” Placella explained. “For example, it has led to college scholarships for Johnston High School graduating senior and construction of the Veterans Memorial Pavilion at War Memorial Park.”

Placella also pointed out that previous Salzillo Game Dinners have helped light the basketball courts inside Johnston War Memorial Park and have benefited programs for children who are battling cancer at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

“It seems like the list is endless,” Placella said. “There’s as much history surrounding this dinner to fill a book. I can’t believe what our group has been able to accomplish since Ricky’s tragic passing.”

So, it’s all systems go for the 2018 Ricky Salzillo Memorial Game Dinner that Placella says will be another sellout.

“We’re expecting over 300 people again this year,” he said. “Tickets are priced at only $35 per person and the proceeds will again help a number of charitable causes. We urge people to get their tickets early at the Johnston Rec office 272-3460 or Kelley-Gazzerro Post 942-9500.”

He also announced the day’s menu that will begin with venison chili and include antipasto salad and bruschetta, game soup, pasta with venison meatballs and venison sausage, wild boar and peas, venison cacciatore, rabbit, venison meatloaf and potato.

The event, which has been likened to a giant family reunion, will also include a huge raffle that’s coordinated by Frank Fede, a native Johnstonian who owns and operates Kingstown Liquors on Post Road in North Kingstown.

“People simply can’t believe the valuable prizes for our raffle,” Placella said. “It’s worth just guying a ticket to the dinner so you can purchase raffle tickets that will also help boost our profits for a number of area non-profit groups.”