SHIRLEY — A flag-raising ceremony held on the green in front of the Town Offices marked the completion of a plan that’s been in the works for eight years. It also marked to start of the Shirley Charitable Foundation’s yearly summer concert series.
The foundation donated much of the money used to purchase the three flag poles installed at the forefront of the grassy lawn in the center of Keady Way, according to Board of Selectmen Chairman David Swain. The town combined the donation with money left over from the 250th Anniversary Committee, a donation from the Tom Linden Memorial Fund and a small amount of MCI funds to complete the project and raise the American, state and town flags, he said at the June 15 event.
“We’ve always wanted to do it,” said Swain.
The Girl Scouts donated the linden trees that were used in the landscaping around the poles, said Swain, and Guthrie Bros. Landscaping coordinated the design and lighting for the project at no charge.
Neal Guthrie, who started the landscaping business with his brother, J.C., was given a rough sketch of how the three flagpoles were to be placed, said Swain. From there, he said the landscaping company donated time and labor for the project, and Mike Flagg, of Flagg Tree Service, helped erect the poles. Powell Stone & Gravel Inc., of Lunenburg, donated all of the supplies for the project.
“It really came out better than anything we ever imagined,” said Swain.
After the ceremony, nearly 100 guests were treated by the foundation to a free concert beneath the gently waving flags.
The foundation secured Sgt. Daniel M. Clark — known as “The Singing Trooper” as dubbed by former Gov. Michael Dukakis — for its first concert of the year. Clark and his wife, Mary Colarusso, whose background is in opera, belted out patriotic and international songs. Clark even sang an Elvis hit.
Clark and Colarusso sing together about 90 percent of the time, said Colarusso, who also manages Clark’s singing career. Colarusso completed her degree at the Boston Conservatory of Music and met Clark after she graduated, she said.
“She runs the whole show,” said Clark.
Clark has been singing since he was a little boy, he said. His parents, who were scientists, exposed him to “the whole gamut,” he said.
He listed his singing experience on his résumé when he joined the State Police in the mid-1980s, he said. Later, he was asked if he could run the organization’s Glee Club, to which he obliged.
At the funeral of a fallen state trooper, Clark sang “Wind Beneath My Wings,” originally sang by Bette Midler, before an audience that included Michael Dukakis.
Dukakis later saw him sing during a Boston Pops concert in Hyannis, said Clark.
Dukakis had said, “Kitty, here’s the singing trooper,” according to Clark’s account.
More requests came rolling in for Clark to perform, particularly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he said, and he was performing at more than 300 events a year. In 2005, Clark said he retired from the police force to pursue his singing career full time.
Clark closed his second and final set with “God Bless America,” joined by Colarusso just as the sun fell behind the trees beyond the Hazen Memorial Library. He then asked the audience to join him in singing “Happy Birthday” to Colarusso.
The summer concert series is a great way to spend a Friday night, Swain said after the performance. Students from the United Way Youth Venture group Shirley Arts For All sold hot dogs and candy to benefit students who need assistance with art-program fees, and ShirleyArts! sold hamburgers and soda to raise money for its programs.
The East Bay Jazz Ensemble will perform June 28, at 6:30 p.m., at the Center Common for the second concert of the series.