By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Surrounded by autumn foliage, many memories of yesteryear were shared as Shrewsbury residents and guests joined state and local officials Oct. 24 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Dean Park. The 75 acres was donated to the town by Charles A. Dean in memory of his parents James and Keziah Stearns Dean. The park officially opened October 27, 1915.
Rededication festivities began with a vintage baseball game featuring the Mudville Base Ball Club of Holliston versus the home team comprised of Shrewsbury High School (SHS) students. Local players and fans learned how circa-1865 baseball rules evolved in 1915. Fittingly, Brown & Brown Real Estate provided kettle popcorn.
Following the game, the park’s rededication ceremony was emceed by James Brown, a parks and cemetery commissioner.
“Today we remember during the trying times of World War I when the Dean family in 1915 entrusted the town of Shrewsbury to preserve and protect a beautiful piece of land that we have come fondly to know as Dean Park,” he said.
The 1915 park commissioners’ report was read by SHS Speech and Debate Team member Tatiana Karadimitriou, a senior. “America” was sung by Jack Cormier, a sixth-grader at Sherwood Middle School.
At the original park dedication in 1915, the first American flag was raised by Grace Dean Backholm, a niece of Charles A. Dean. At this year’s rededication, the flag was raised by her great grandsons Connor and Owen Mongeon. Concurrently, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited by her great grandchildren Alexis and Kealan Green with Jenna and Kelsi Taylor.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito noted that the rededication was being held at the same field where she learned to play softball as a child.
“This is a place where people come as families and children come to learn, whether it’s a sport or to understand the beauty of nature,” she said. “Especially now in the busy days when people are working so hard and find little time for recreation and family time, we have this special place to come as a community.”
State Rep. Hannah Kane, R-Shrewsbury, spoke of the widespread appreciation for Dean Park.
“As someone who lives near the park, I know firsthand of the joy that it brings to both Shrewsbury residents and those who visit from all over central Massachusetts to spend time outdoors,” she said. “My husband and I bought our home just across the street from Dean Park 18 years ago. For our children, Dean Park is their backyard.”
Shrewsbury Selectmen Chair Moira Miller chronicled the park’s history. She noted that in the park commissioners’ 1915 town report, Dean Park was described as “an ideal spot for the development of an attractive playground; a most fitting gift which may be enjoyed by all in our ever-changing and delightful town of Shrewsbury.”
“How interesting that Shrewsbury was described as ‘ever-changing’ even 100 years ago,” Miller commented. “Even though the town of Shrewsbury has changed greatly since 1915, Dean Park remains a treasure in our community.”
An invitation for everyone to play lawn games was extended by park commissioners James Brown, James LeMay and Edward Vigliatura, chair. The rededication was organized by Angela Snell, director of parks, recreation and cemetery.
Photos/Ed Karvoski Jr.