WARWICK — A free car show will be hosted Saturday, July 24 at Oakland Beach in honor of Tony Parravano, an artist, musician and filmmaker who died on Main Street in Wakefield in August of 2019 during a performance. “Wheels for Wishes,” which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., will feature classic and antiques vehicles for public viewing across a wide variety of makes and models, and a special trophy presentation in honor of Parravano. The event will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Rhode Island chapter.
“We decided to do a car show because Tony was always interested in vintage cars and had several throughout the years,” said Amy Beth Parravano, Tony’s wife. “He was even a co-owner of a garage in Silver Lake in the 1950s.”
Tony and Amy Beth met in 1974 as the result of an ad placed in The Providence Journal by Amy
Beth, seeking a bass guitar player for a country rock band she was forming after returning from a trip to Nashville, TN. Tony, a musician, was a civilian cartographer for the U.S. Army Map Service for over 30 years before his retirement, and was drafted into the Army in 1950 to serve during the Korean War. Upon his retirement from the military, Tony opened and operated a landscaping business. The couple were engaged in 1979, after experiencing the Blizzard of ’78 together. Amy Beth notes Tony was also “a biker” and enjoyed riding a Harley Davidson.
The couple’s professional pursuits crossed over in the form of performance, with the duo constantly hitting the road and bringing their musical and mime act to public streets and events in towns throughout the state and beyond. Amy Beth, a songwriter and actor who performs in mime, felt like she had met her match in Tony, who played different assortments of instruments and also had an avid interest in filmmaking. Wanting to reach a wider audience, the couple began to produce “Amy Beth Presents” a television show featuring the performer and frequent guests, which was in part filmed by Tony. “Amy Beth Presents” debuted on COX Rhode Island in 1995 and was still running at the time of Tony’s death.
On Aug. 15, 2019, Amy Beth and Tony were on Main Street in Wakefield outside of Mary Murphy’s for one such performance for South Kingstown’s Endless Summer Festival when tragedy struck. Tony, who had previously suffered from a cancerous brain tumor and had been in hospice, sat down in a lawn chair while Amy Beth performed in mime along Main Street. At one point, Tony took a walk and a bit later Amy Beth looked to see two men standing with him and her husband suffering a massive seizure. Tony was later pronounced dead at South County Hospital.
“The event came together as a way to honor Tony,” said Amy Beth, who coordinated the event around the same time of year Tony died. “We are so grateful to be able to host this at Oakland Beach. Seeing all the different cars and trucks on public display and people enjoying seeing those is a great way to remember and honor Tony.”
At the conclusion of the show, a “Tony Trophy” will be awarded to the vehicle that Parravano would have enjoyed the most.
The car show will take place at Oakland Beach in Warwick on Saturday, July 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cars and trucks in the show will begin arriving between 10 and 11 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.