Woonsocket family brings big smiles, plenty of laughter to national game show

Woonsocket family brings big smiles, plenty of laughter to national game show

The Fontaine family poses with the host of "Family Feud." From left are Renee Raymond, Paula Rasco, Keri Lagor, Steve Harvey, Dawn Castonguay and Alysha Castonguay.
Fontaines to appear on Family Feud Feb. 21

WOONSOCKET - When the game show Family Feud held auditions at Foxwoods Casino last year, it's hardly a surprise that the Fontaine family from Woonsocket was the favorite among thousands to try out.

With fun, bubbly personalities, megawatt smiles and a penchant for adventure, the crew seems practically made for the task.

"They really liked our energy," said Renee Raymond, the admitted ring-leader of the group. Raymond applied to be on the program unbeknownst to her kin last year, explaining on the application that if her family was chosen, they would use prize money to finance their annual reunion.

The show, which boasts winnings of up to $100,000 in prizes plus a brand new car, requires five participants.

"We have a crazy family so I knew I'd get four others," Raymond said.

A mistaken bit of information helped with her recruitment efforts: Raymond believed filming for the program was local, and told the others they wouldn't need to travel far.

'I thought it was in Boston," she said. "I don't fly."

It was only months later, when she received a postcard notifying her that the family had been picked, that she realized her error. The show offered to fly the group out to Atlanta, Ga., for filming and a three-day mini-vacation, to include lodging and a chance for plenty of family fun time.

"I had to do it. I couldn't let my family down," Raymond said.

Raymond's aunt, Dawn Castonguay, had bright blue Family Feud T-shirts made for the five, a fun accessory that would later contributed to the crew's hijinks.

Castonguay and Raymond would be joined by Raymond's sister Paula Rasco, and cousin Keri Lagor, along with Castonguay's daughter Alysha, a former Miss Rhode Island and current cheerleader for the New England Patriots.

"It was awesome," Castonguay said of the experience.

The family sported the matching shirts to travel, and as a result, say they were treated like royalty.

"They let us through to the front of the security line at the airport," Raymond said, laughing.

The Fontaines were given a free day to explore the city and again donned the shirts, labeled with the show's well known orange and yellow emblem.

"People were asking to have their picture taken with us," said Castonguay.

The real fun, however, happened in the studio during their day of filming. The show is hosted by actor/comedian Steve Harvey, who provided a day full of laughs by doing routines between sets.

"Steve Harvey is hysterical to begin with," said Raymond.

The Fontaines had their own jokes for the host, even calling him their long-lost "Uncle Steve" after noting he shares the family's trademark toothy grin.

"He's so down to earth," said Raymond. "What you see on TV is what he's really like."

If you're wondering if the Fontaines walked away with a cool $100K, "you have to watch and see," said Castonguay. The participants are under strict orders not to disclose the outcome until the program airs.

"At the end, they fly us home, and we have to keep our mouths shut,' said Raymond.

The program airs on Friday, Feb. 21 at 2:30 p.m. The family will watch the show from home with a crowd of friends who they say are eager to see if they win.

The Fontaines have been told that if they get high ratings next week, they might even be asked back.

"We want the biggest rating from the smallest state," said Raymond. "Ratings are everything."

The show is just the latest adventure for the Woonsocket born and raised crew.

"I just like to get us into crazy situations," said Raymond. "I love to plan any type of get-together and it's never simple. Basically every time there is a concert, or a birthday or any event, I jump right in and plan over the top."

Tune in to the Fox network next week for a peek at their antics.

Dawn Castonguay and Renee Raymond sport the custom-made T-shirts that they wore during their trip to Atlanta, Ga., to appear on "Family Feud," while holding the postcard notifying them they were chosen for the show, now framed and kept on Raymond's mantle. (Valley Breeze photo by Sandy Seoane)