SHREWSBURY – With Spirit of Shrewsbury right around the corner, Fran and Judy Polito have been named the grand marshals.
Although the Politos were initially hesitant when President Maria Smith called, Fran later agreed.
“I agreed because I thought maybe this is something the family wanted to remember,” Fran said. “But as for myself, I’m not one to be in any spotlight. I don’t like accolades. I just like to do my job and get along with people and make someone else’s life better.”
Judy said it was “quite an honor” for them.
“You live your life all these years, and it’s almost a culmination of what you’ve done … and where you’ve been,” Fran said. “I think it’s a privilege that the town would recognize us.”
Smith said, “They, to me, just exemplify what community spirit is. Where we are the Spirit of Shrewsbury fall festival, to me that’s what they are – they are the spirit of Shrewsbury.”
A family legacy
Fran and Judy have been married 59 years. Generations of their family have lived and served the town.
Judy’s father served on the School Committee and with SELCO.
Their daughter, Karyn, served as a Town Meeting member, selectman and Zoning Board of Appeals member before she joined the House of Representatives and is now lieutenant governor.
Judy and several of their other family members are also Town Meeting members. Their son, Kenny, is a member of the Lake Quinsigamond Commission and Conservation Commission.
Fran served on the Finance Committee.
“We had a great crew,” Fran said. “It was a privilege to understand all of the funding and every direction it was targeted to.”
He said Richard Carney was “one of the finest” town managers someone could serve with during his time on the committee.
Now, their granddaughter, Lena, is a member of the Finance Committee.
Looking back on their work in the town, Fran said he likes to ride around and look at some of the projects they have been involved with, knowing how and when they were built and that they will always be there.
That includes Quinsigamond Shores, Hills Farm Industrial Park where Fran’s business, J.A. Polito & Sons Inc. is located and homes on Coachman Ridge.
Judy was also on a committee to raise funds for the senior center, where they later placed a plaque on the wall for the room where the center holds its activities.
“That was something that I felt very strongly about,” she said.
Judy was also involved in the Spirit of Shrewsbury parade and was the voice of the parade as its commentator.
When asked what it was like to go from working on the parade to being grand marshal, Judy said, “I can’t believe that anybody wanted us to do that, but I’m very honored.”
She said she was looking forward to the residents coming together as a community to celebrate Shrewsbury.
“I think our community has gone through a major transition…,” Fran said. “I think … a parade could be the catalyst to bring everyone together because we’re all equal. I think we need more camaraderie and more understanding of where we all stand because our town is more diverse today.”
Spirit of Shrewsbury schedule
The festival will be held Sept. 24-25 and marks its 26th anniversary.
This year, the festival will be back in full force and in person. The parade will be returning, and new this year will be a dog festival.
For more information, visit https://spiritofshrewsbury.org.