By Pete Fontaine
It’s being billed as one of the most special events ever to be held inside Johnston War Memorial Park, and it’s going to benefit the highly-acclaimed and nationally Meeting Street School that will include family fun, fantastic food, music and much, more from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Hosted by DJ the Car Guy, Richard George, a retired public school educator and one the state’s most popular disc jockeys, and George Arakelian Jr., who owns and operates A Custom Car Stereo Center on Atwood Avenue in Johnston.
It’s also going to include a unique motorcycle event, a bike run hosted by the Screamin’ Eagles Motorcycle non-profit group that’s led by veteran Johnston Police Sergeant Emilio “Emo” Sabitoni.
However, there’s another highly-unusual event that will be featured during Sunday’s event that’s sure to push profits over the top. Never before, at least not that anyone connected with the Hot Wheels Summer Charity Car, Truck, Bike Show and Motorcycle Run can remember, has such an event featured a Sneaker Swap.
“I’ve been around a long, long time,” Emo Sabitoni said. “I’m absolutely amazed what people pay for those sneakers. Just wait until you see the types of sneakers that can go for as much as $ 600 and higher.”
Sabitoni, who has been with the Johnston Police Department for 45 years and counting, said, “Did you ever think you’d see people pay $ 1,000 for a pair of sneakers?”
That could happen Sunday, weather permitting, when Kevork George Arakelian III brings his highly-popular Sneaker Rodeo of Rhode Island to the huge Meeting Street School benefit.
“George has made this a profitable hobby,” Sabitoni said while praising his grandson’s efforts. “He travels all over the place and he’s really looking forward to adding a special flavor to Sunday’s fund-raiser.”
The Sneaker Rodeo event will consist of people buying, trading and even selling sneakers in a safe, organized manner for all ages. Gina Sabitoni-Arakelian – Emo’s daughter and George Arakelian Jr.’s wife – said vendors can rent or set up a table for $ 60 and sell sneakers while “attendees of all ages can haggle prices in order to get that special pair (of sneakers) they’ve been looking for” at other such Sneaker Swaps.
Organizers will welcome vendors for a donation of $ 60 that Sabitoni said will be included in the money being raised for Meeting Street School. Sunday’s event is, as Sabitoni said, “A bunch of different events all geared with family fun in mind. It’s a Car Show with judges; a Motorcycle Show with judges; over 60 trophies for the winners; raffles with all kinds of prizes; food and music.”
Sabitoni announced that Ron Giorgio, Jr., who does a mirror image of Frank Sinatra, will be among the day’s entertainers. He also said that Gina Calabro has signed on to judge the Car and Truck Show portion of Sunday’s event while Mike Ventrone, a salesperson at Ocean State Harley Davidson in Warwick, will judge entries in the Motorcycle Show.
“We’re encouraging families to come and have lots of fun – and food – and perhaps win some money from the 50/50 raffle while helping to raise money for one of Rhode Island’s most cherished and important schools,” said Sabitoni. “Please, join us Sunday. Admission for the general public is free.”
Those owners of cars, trucks and motorcycles who enter the show will pay $ 15 Sunday or a $ 10 registration fee prior to the event.
Sabitoni emphasized that food has been reasonably priced, saying that people can enjoy hamburgers for just $ 2 and hot dogs and drinks for just a dollar.
“There will be fun for the whole family and the result will hopefully generate a huge donation for Meeting Street School,” said Sabitoni.
The motorcycle run led by the Screamin’ Eagles will have kickstands up at 11 a.m. for the round trip trek to the always-popular Music Lady in Moosup, Connecticut, and back.
Sabitoni also said there will be a special “Bounce House” set up for the children and a variety of vendors for the parents. It’s all in an effort to raise money for Meeting Street School, which Sabitoni and his family have been doing for eight straight years.
“We’ve donated in excess of $ 50,000 during that time,” Sabitoni said, adding that his favorite time of year is in January during the WPRI-TV Telethon when his family joins other people and agencies to make their presentation to the Providence-based school. “When you visit the school and see what great work people are doing there, that makes everyone feel great about events like the one we’re having Sunday.”