The Patriot Ledger
QUINCY – For the past 12 years, the Rizzi family has visited each Quincy fire station on Thanksgiving morning.
The family, upward of 30 of them, pile into five or six cars and bring a Thanksgiving feast to the firefighters working the holiday: cranberry jelly, yams, stuffing, mashed potatoes and, most important, a fully cooked turkey that needs a little warming before it’s ready to be served.
The seven brothers and sisters – and, until she died, their mother – have been bringing the meals to the fire stations to honor the siblings’ father, former Quincy fire Lt. Roy Rizzi, who died on Aug. 14, 2009, at age 81.
“My dad loved two things,” daughter Lynne O’Dea said. “He loved the fire department and he loved to eat, and Thanksgiving was one of his favorite meals.”
The tradition started the year after Roy Rizzi died. While trying to figure out a way to honor their father’s memory, someone came up with the idea of providing Thanksgiving meals.
The late Roy Rizzi: Read Roy Rizzi’s obituary published in The Patriot Ledger
Son John Rizzi said Mike D’Andrea and Carlo Croceteis, of D’Andrea Foods, donate the turkeys while Hart Brothers Caterers in Rockland gives them a deal on cooking the turkeys and providing the sides. D’Andrea and Croceteis knew Roy Rizzi, he said.
“We make a loop around the city, starting at 8 in the morning, and we’re usually done by noontime,” O’Dea said.
John Rizzi said it started out with 10 to 15 family members heading to each station but, with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the numbers have swelled over the years.
“It’s a great time for the family too,” he said.
John Rizzi missed last year’s delivery because he was sick with COVID-19.
Most of the time, when they arrive at the station, the firefighters throw open the doors, regardless of the weather. On only a few occasions has the crew been out of the station responding to calls.
“Some stations only have three people on, so the next group coming in will have leftovers,” O’Dea said.
One year they had so many people making the deliveries, they rented a bus.
O’Dea said some of her sisters bring pies and some of the brothers bring eggnog.
“The little ones always have something to bring them,” she said.
The teenagers associate Thanksgiving with dropping off the dinners, she said.
O’Dea said her father was devoted to Quincy and its fire department.
“He never missed a retirement banquet,” she said.
Roy Rizzi’s father was a firefighter who died at 45 from a heart attack while on duty at the Squantum station, and his brother, Walter Rizzi, also was a Quincy firefighter.
Growing up, all the siblings would visit the fire station, and many of their memories are tied to seeing their father there.
“A lot of the kids on these days, we go in, and I think, ‘Are you old enough?’ and a lot of them didn’t know my father, but every year, somebody has a story. They’ll say, ‘Let me tell you about Roy.’ It’s so nice,” O’Dea said.
O’Dea said her father, who served in the Navy during World War II and fought in the Army in the Korean War, retired from the Quincy Fire Department when he was forced to at 65, the mandatory retirement age.
“When he turned 65, we had to go down to the fire station and drag him out of there,” John Rizzi said.
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Reach reporter Wheeler Cowperthwaite at firstname.lastname@example.org.