PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Officer Tony Lepore is a holiday tradition in Rhode Island, the state that issued the first jail sentence for speeding 108 years ago. Since 1984, he has entertained drivers, pedestrians and gawkers with dance moves in downtown Providence — all while directing traffic.
The routine, Lepore says, was born not at Christmas but in the month of May, out of the boredom and aggravation that officers typically experience while directing rushing drivers and jaywalking pedestrians.
Positive publicity encouraged officials to endorse the dancing cop, who continued to perform until he left the job in 1988.
In 1992, Lepore says, he got a call from city officials asking him to rejoin the force to dance and direct traffic around Christmastime as they pushed to redefine the city's image and bring visitors downtown. So every year he signs up as a reserve police officer for 10 days.
He says his body takes a pounding and that he has had knee surgery, pulled some muscles and even suffered stress fractures.
Rodrique Ngowi can be reached at http://twitter.com/ngowi