If you’re a hockey fan and like rubbing elbows with the stars of yesteryear, plan to be at Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick on Sunday, Aug. 5 for the 12th annual Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society Reunion.
“Fun, food and fellowship are just some of the many things people have enjoyed at our reunions,” Buster Clegg, president of the Reds Heritage Society, said this week. “This is our cornerstone event ... many, many former players have attended in the past.
And, as Clegg and long-time Reds Heritage Society board member Tom McDonough concurred this week, “We expect to have another long list of former greats on hand this year.”
As many as 35 former Reds and other ex-pro hockey great players are expected to attend this year’s reunion that will actually begin on Friday evening August 3 and run until Sunday night, August 5. The list of all-time greats includes Hockey Hall of Fame members Johnny Bower, Milt Schmidt and Ferny Flaman.
Bower, in fact, is again rumored to be gearing up for the annual trip and will reportedly bring busload of former pro hockey player from Toronto.
“It’s always a fun and emotional time when Bower’s Bus pulls into the hotel on early Friday afternoon,” McDonough offered. “It’s one of those special moments that make the weekend a real happening.”
The reunion afternoon is always special and features a buffet barbecue, raffle, door prizes and presentation of the Tops Award, named in honor and memory of the late and great Zellio Toppazzini. The entire ceremony is held in the carousel Building at Goddard Park.
George Ranieri, a fan favorite whose blistering wrist shot from the wing earned him 111 goals in five season with the Reds, will receive the Tops Award. He was headed toward stardom until a massive blood clot in his brain cut short what Clegg said “would have been an extraordinary career.”
Bill Belisle, the legendary Mount Saint Charles Academy coach who has won more than 900 games in his career, will receive the Reds’ native-born hockey Achievement Award.
Tickets for the 12th annual Reds Heritage Society are $35 for adults, $15 for children ages 6-to-12 and kids under age six will be admitted free. The event will begin at 12 p.m.
“We don’t like raising our ticket prices,” Clegg emphasized, “so in keeping with tradition, the ticket prices are the same as they’ve been in past years.”
While making the announcement, Clegg issued a special notice that seating will again be limited at this year’s reunion and only 300 tickets will be sold. Anyone wishing to purchase a ticket or tickets should call Clegg at (401) 247-2666.
Meanwhile, Clegg also issued an “open invitation” to anyone who’d like to join the Reds Heritage Society, which is a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation whose primary mission is to restore and preserve the 51-year history of the Reds from 1926-27 to 1976-77.
Clegg also announced that the Reds Heritage Society has a current enrollment of over 650 members and that memberships are only $20 per person. Guests and many of the former players who are scheduled to attend will be housed at the Hampton Inn & Suites Hotel (401-739-7888), 2100 Post Road in Warwick
“That’s a staggering number inasmuch as the team has been defunct for almost 30 years,” Clegg said of the Society’s membership. “We welcome any and all new members.”
The Reds Heritage Society also publishes a free, full-color newsletter and issues invitations to special events – like the annual Reunion Weekend – as well as the annual Lunch & Crunch at Providence College’s Schneider Arena.
If you’d like to join the Reds Heritage Society, please send a check or money order to the organization, P.O. Box 167, Barrington, R.I. 02806.