NORTH PROVIDENCE – The first North Providence Village Festival in Centredale so wildly exceeded expectations that town officials are now considering ways it can be expanded in the future.
“This is unbelievable,” said Town Councilor Steven DiLorenzo as he walked around the event in his blue and gold festival T-shirt last Saturday.
DiLorenzo said many hundreds of people had already come through since the festival started the evening before.
Council members and others were telling The Breeze that not only do they plan to bring back this festival next fall, but they also want to hold similar festivities where the Smith Street block in front of Town Hall is shut down at other times of the year, including at Christmastime. There were even suggestions that this is something that could be held four times annually.
“Have you ever seen Centredale look like this?” asked Battalion Chief John Horan, of the North Providence Fire Department.
As patrons filed through Shane Piche’s newly opened Stella Sweets to grab ice cream or a cupcake, and others sat inside and outside restaurants such as R.I. Billiards, Centredale Revival, Larry’s Lounge and the nearby Tumblesalts Café, the area more closely resembled some of the destination-type restaurant strips in the area, presenting for the first time in decades a clear picture of what this section of Smith Street could be.
Piche was among those saying that he and others are now discussing holding four such events annually, including one at Christmas. Imagine, he said, the magic of this place with a full-scale town holiday event centered on a tree lighting as the anchor.
Town Councilor Steven Loporchio said it was a “real eye-opener” to him to see how much effort town workers, including public safety and public works employees, put in to pulling off the first event. There wasn’t a piece of paper that would fall to the ground that someone wouldn’t quickly scoop up, he said, and everyone kept coming up and saying how safe they felt with the strong police presence, including Chief Alfredo Ruggiero Jr. being there all three days.
It was great for the community to see so many smiling faces, said Loporchio, and he didn’t observe “one cell of mischievous kids” the entire weekend. He said there should definitely be more similar events, including a Christmas stroll.
There were some things that would certainly be improved at a second event, said Loporchio, such as expanded fun for children, but for a first attempt this was everything people hoped it would be.
DiLorenzo thanked Mayor Charles Lombardi and others for their support in helping to put the event on.
Councilor Mario Martone thanked DiLorenzo for putting it all together.
“Everyone had a great time and all of our North Providence neighbors came together like the incredible community we all know we have. … We will see you all next year,” he said.
Lombardi said it was a pleasure watching people of all ages enjoying the event, including good food and music. To watch friendships being renewed among “people who haven’t seen each other for a long time, just having a good time,” it was really satisfying to see, he said.
Officials couldn’t have asked for better weather for the three-day event, he said, commending DiLorenzo and his committee for their hard work on the event.
Lombardi said nearly every person he spoke with said what a great idea this event was and how nicely it was put together.