SHIRLEY -- The Shirley Charitable Foundation's annual Summer Concert Series is set to launch next month. Nashoba Valley Concert Band appears first in the seasonal line-up, which includes a total of five concerts from June 27 to Aug. 22.
SCF President Al Collins brought the schedule to selectmen Monday night, seeking their official permission to hold the events on the town common.
The first concerts were held outside the Town Offices, but about five years ago, SCF changed the venue, with the board's blessing. Now, the concerts are held on the Town Common, where the Center Town Hall and the Historic Meetinghouse create a picture-perfect backdrop and there's plenty of tree-shaded grass.
"It's a perfect venue," Collins said. "And the Meetinghouse allows us in if it rains."
Selectman David Swain agreed. "You're absolutely right" that the concerts belong on the common, he said, citing an increase in turnout from two or three dozen people in the early days to hundreds last year.
The mission of the 11-year-old nonprofit organization in establishing the concert series was to foster community spirit, bring folks together and enhance the town's character, Collins said. The SCF also provides an umbrella for other charities in town and submits necessary paperwork to administer the Grace Winslow Trust on behalf of the board.
Collins also asked selectmen to bless another SCF initiative in the works for some time: extending the existing "Avenue of Flags," from the village area to the town center.
The Avenue of Flags program dates back to the group's beginnings as its first project. Now, with nine new flags of the United States of America purchased, the SCF is ready to install them in time for Memorial Day.
The flags will ring the Common, three on each side, Collins said.
Selectmen announced the town's Memorial Day observances would be held on Sunday, May 25.
The prospect of traditional Memorial Day observances in Shirley seemed uncertain after American Legion Post 183 announced several weeks ago that it could not continue to coordinate ancillary activities it had hosted in the past, such as a parade, speakers and a luncheon at the War Memorial Building.
Citing insufficient membership to carry out those tasks, Post Commander Lewis Creiss told the board the Legion would continue to do its duty by honoring Shirley war heroes. Members would observe Memorial Day by conducting wreath-laying ceremonies at town war monuments and placing flags on the graves of U.S. service men and women in the town's cemeteries who died serving the nation. But that would be the extent of it, he said.
A Memorial Day Committee consisting of veterans later stepped up to plan the rest.
Thanks to their efforts, the program will include the following events.
On Sunday, May 25, a march will begin at 1:45 p.m. at the War Memorial Building, proceeding to Front Street for a ceremony at Whiteley Park at 2 p.m., after which the march will continue to the Town Square to raise the flag of the United States of America.
Activities at Whiteley Park will include the national anthem sung by Holly Haase, "It's a Grand Old Flag" sung by a trio of Ayer Shirley Regional Middle School students and music by the Immaculate Heart of Mary High School Band from Still River and the Ayer Shirley Regional High School Band.
The guest speaker will be U.S.M.C. Major Josh Phares. The Legion, for its part, will honor the town's war dead, according to the program.