"Happy Days" Come to East Providence's Crescent Park
Saturday Cruise Nights go until Sept. 18th 4pm-dusk Rick Gregory, Rick DePasquale & Joe Medeiros keep it going every Saturday
He may not be as famous or super wealthy like television Happy Days' Richie Cunningham, but East Providence's retired Director of Recreation, Joe Medeiros, is plenty famous around these parts. One of Medeiros' past times is enjoying his vintage 1965 yellow Ford Mustang. So much so that he and several friends have helped to organize a popular "cruise night" which is held every Saturday night at Crescent Park in Riverside. Glistening under the shadows of the Looff Carousel at the once-thriving amusement park, are upwards of 80 to 90 vintage or classic cars and trucks. Their owners stand or sit nearby proudly showing their prize posessions to visitors.
The Cruise Night Director is Riverside resident Richard Gregory, ably assisted by Rick DePasquale and Joe Medeiros. Gregory greets the classics as they enter the grassy lot and DePasquale jots down the license plates in order to award free raffle gifts during the evening. "It's great, free entertainment on a Saturday night by the bay," said Gregory. "You can't beat it!"
Each Saturday night (begining last May) the regulars arrive by 4 pm and say hello to old friends and meet new ones. Any one from anywhere is welcome to stop by the Cruise night. "There is no admission but we do have a donation box and folks donate anything they wish. We purchase specialty car products and raffle off several every Cruise Night as free prizes," said Medeiros. "In the past we have even donated money to the local Carousel commission for their restoration ," he added.
Each week different participants can be seen joining in the fun and the event balloons on great weather evenings. In addition to perusing by all the beautiful vehicles, car owners and general visitors are treated to an "American Grafitti" type sound track as organizers play fifties songs from a gazebo sound system. An occassional bobby soxer or two do a little dance to Monster Mash or At the Hop.
Additionally visitors can dine on Blount Seafood's food truck which offers their delicious clam chowder, clam cakes and other goodies. The food truck is on site while plans are underway to build a more permanent refreshment building.
"We lost last year to COVID and it has been so great to see everyone return this summer," Medeiros said. "People really needed this." Indeed, on this Saturday night, July 10, 2021, people were walking around viewing the cars & trucks, talking with their owners and relaxing in lawn chairs. Many had Blount's seafood or brought a sandwich and soft drink.
So before this summer is over, Gregory, DePasquale & Medeiros hope you will stop by and catch some cruising fever. It is free to anyone but collected donations in a bucket that Richard & Karen Gregory watch over, keep the prizes going and even help out the Looff carousel a little.
It may not be "the thrill from Blueberry Hill," but Fonzie and Richie would approve!
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