PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Former Providence Mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci was all smiles Thursday after a medical emergency sent him to the hospital.
Cianci passed out during a City Hall event to mark the unveiling of his portrait, Providence City Council President Luis Aponte confirmed.
Aponte told Eyewitness News shortly after 6 p.m. that an ambulance had been called to City Hall to attend to the 74-year-old former mayor, who served two extended terms between 1977 and 2002 and is arguably the most iconic Rhode Island politician of the past half-century.
Cianci was conscious and sitting up in a wheelchair when he was brought out of City Hall around 6:20 p.m. and placed in an ambulance.
Cyd McKenna, Cianci’s former campaign manager and the newly appointed City Council chief of staff, said Cianci did not fall but rather sat down, “and he just went.” She attributed the episode to heat.
After being released from the hospital, Cianci headed straight to Trattoria Roma on Federal Hill, where a dinner party was waiting for him.
“I’m fine. I was a little dehydrated. The room was hot and I was dehydrated,” Cianci told Eyewitness News. “I finished my speech and I just sat down afterwards and I guess I got a little bit dehydrated. I didn’t pass out I don’t think.”
The health scare surprised and worried the crowd of well-wishers who’d gathered at City Hall for the unveiling of Cianci’s privately funded portrait.
“I was shocked,” said John Oakes, a long-time friend of the former mayor. “Going to have a good time and something happens you know.”
Cianci’s grandson, Joseph, was on his way to the ceremony when Cianci was taken away.
“He had a little complication. He fainted. I know he’s going to be good,” he said. “I’m optimistic about it. I’m not really concerned. I saw him beat cancer. All he did is faint. I don’t want people worrying about it.”
“I’m back eating and looking forward to having my pasta,” Cianci added.
Cianci made an unsuccessful comeback bid for mayor in 2014, losing to Jorge Elorza. Before launching his campaign Cianci revealed that he’d been diagnosed with a “curable cancer.” He has continued to work as a talk-show host on WPRO-AM since losing last year’s race.