Pride and pageantry

Community spirit celebrated at Johnston High’s 2016 homecoming

Johnston Sun Rise ·


Floats and football, cheerleaders and crowds, horses and heroes.

Those were just some of the reasons Johnston High School’s 2016 homecoming was a smashing success.

Many of the people who made up what Johnston police called one of the largest crowds in recent memory concurred that every phase of Saturday’s classic celebration was as bright as the day’s sun.

“The parade was a spectacular event,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bernard DiLullo assessed after walking the entire route. “All the floats were well done and it was evident that much time, care, and creativity went into the construction. Parents, students, and faculty advisors put all their effort into these spectacular floats.”

Even Richard S. Tamburini, Johnston’s veteran police chief, helped make the parade special.

He turned back the hands of time – some two decades, to when he was the Providence Police Department’s deputy chief – and asked if the capital city’s Mounted Command could send a couple of horses for the parade.

Tamburini’s request was granted, and around 9 a.m. he greeted the command horse trailer and officers Tony Lorango and Douglas Gould, who were decked out in dress uniforms. They brought along Goliath, a full-blooded Percheron, and Charlie, a full-blooded Clydesdale.

The Mounted Command was second in the annual line of march behind Tamburini’s car.

When asked how many years he’s been leading the homecoming parade, Tamburini replied with a smile: “This is number 21, and it’s as exciting today as it was back then.”

After leading a host of town officials who also walked the entire parade route, Mayor Joseph Polisena – a member of Johnston High’s class of 1972 – said: “This is a great homecoming weekend. I am so glad that the tradition has continued since I was a student at Johnston High School. The students, parents and teachers are to be commended for all their hard work in ensuring that the homecoming traditional continues.”

“It seems like the entire town of Johnston watched the parade,” state Rep. Deborah A. Fellela said. “Today is a great show of community support.”

Atwood and Hartford avenues were lined with spectators, and when the parade made its way up Memorial Drive, both sides of the street near Mohr Library were overflowing with people. Those on hand heaped words of praise upon groups like the Johnston High Panther Marching Band under the direction of Ron Lamoureux.

“We are all proud of our band,” DiLullo later said. “They sounded great again today, and always add so much to the festivities – the parade and football game.”

DiLullo added: “The football team played very well today. It looks like coach [Joe] Acciardo and his staff have gotten our team back in the win column.”

Acciardo’s squad topped the Pilgrim High Patriots, 53-36, inside the jam-packed Mayor Joseph M. Polisena Stadium on Saturday.

Every part of Saturday’s homecoming, which was coordinated by Student Council advisor Greg Russo, was a winner.

Although the class of 2017 took top honors with its “Go For The Gold” theme in the annual float competition, the junior, sophomore, and freshman classes really shined during the design and construction of their colorful floats.

The class of 2020’s float – which was entitled “One Small Step” – received rave reviews from people like Town Councilman Anthony Verardo and his wife, as well as many others who watched Saturday morning’s judging.

“My son Vincent is the co-class advisor with Nadia Cricco,” Verardo said. “He told us that although these kids had never built a float before, they showed lots and lots of talent and creativity. Congratulations to all.”

Also entered in the competition were the class of 2018’s “Walk the Plank” float and the class of 2019’s “No Place Like Home” float.

Meanwhile, Johnston High’s national award-winning cheerleading corps, which is coached by Susan Parillo, provided their usual show of stellar support for the home team.

“The cheerleaders and majorettes were as impressive as our football team,” DiLullo said. “Their halftime performances showed off their skills and what a great job Coach Parillo has done with the cheerleaders.”

In the middle of Saturday’s halftime festivities was Kyle Nelson, who quarterbacked the Panthers to the impressive win and was voted homecoming king. Sarah Banno won the title of homecoming queen.

They were joined by the 2016 royal court and last year’s king and queen, Gian Paola and Erica Perkins, who like many of the current class officers rode in convertibles during Saturday’s parade.

Saturday’s celebration included another terrific tradition that attracted a standing-room-only crowd inside the school’s cafeteria.

That was the annual Alumni Breakfast, which is sponsored and paid for by the Student Council and is prepared and served by members of the Johnston Lions Club.

“On behalf of the Johnston school district, I want to thank Mr. [Greg] Russo, the Student Council, and the faculty and staff for their hard work in putting the day together, ending with the homecoming dance,” DiLullo said. “And thanks to the Lions Club for once again providing us with a delicious breakfast, which is truly a community event and one we can all be proud of.”