Inspired by an old set-up on TV classic Candid Camera, he began adding fancy footwork and flamboyant arm movements to his traffic direction.
‘I saw Candid Camera and I thought. ‘Gee, maybe tomorrow I’m going to try a couple of spins and hand movements… But I didn’t know if my bosses were going to like it,’ he said. However, with positive feedback from amused motorists, police chiefs allowed him to carry on.
Drivers not completely distracted by his act will find themselves directed just where they want to be.
‘I’ve had people come down and film me and say, “You’re really directing traffic,”‘ he told local television show The Rhode Show.
The Vietnam veteran has had his share of serious police work, spending nine years on night duty in Providence and being decorated for valour in the line of duty.
He once saved two teenage girls by diving into the freezing river after their car overturned into the water. On another occasion he pulled workers from the rubble of a building levelled by an explosion – just in time to save them from a second blast.
But a transfer to day duty and directing traffic left him bored, he says.
Three years after inventing his trademark dance routine, Mr Lepore retired and went into catering with his brother, but in 1992 a local newspaper interviewed him for a ‘Whatever happened to’ feature.
Soon he was invited by the mayor to reprise his act specially for the Christmas season – and he’s still doing it today.