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    Wednesday, June 19, 2024

    Flags adorn Norwich neighborhood in salute to veterans on Memorial Day

    James Mackie walks along Trading Cove Drive Tuesday, May 21, 2024, with one of the flags that are hanging from all the light posts at Trading Cove Commons. (Dana Jensen/The Day).
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    Flags hanging from light poles at Trading Cove Commons Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Norwich. (Dana Jensen/The Day).
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    James Mackie pushes a button that will make the flag wave and play patriotic songs located on mailboxes at Trading Cove Commons Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Full-size flags hang from all the light posts in the community. (Dana Jensen/The Day).
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    James Mackie uses a pole to straighten out a flag that had become twisted around its flagpole hanging from a light pole at Trading Cove Commons Tuesday, May 21, 2024. Flags that are hanging from all the light posts in the community. (Dana Jensen/The Day).
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    Norwich – Tucked into a corner at the edge of Norwich, James Mackie describes his neighborhood as “a little piece of paradise.”

    And he wants residents and visitors alike to know that the 55-plus Trading Cove Commons community honors veterans as Memorial Day approaches and Flag Day follows soon afterward.

    Mackie, 76, an alternate on the Planned Unit Development community’s board, and board President Alan Ginglardi, came up with the idea to hang flags on all the light poles while they were sitting and talking at the outdoor chairs where Mackie said residents talk and solve the world’s problems in five minutes.

    “I’m 21 years in the submarine service,” Ginglardi said. “I said, ‘Why don’t we hang flags?’ And we brought it to the board.”

    They asked the board last fall to buy American flags to decorate the common areas of the neighborhood of more than 30 homes. The board at first was split, but the last reluctant member relented eventually.

    Mackie, a retired state Department of Transportation road maintenance worker, climbed the ladder, and Ginglardi, 79, stood below and handed up the tools and flags. Together, they erected seven flags on the neighborhood’s light poles. Since the flags are lighted, they do not need to be brought in at night, Mackie said.

    “I think they look really nice,” Ginglardi said. “When they get ragged, we’ll change them out.”

    This spring, Mackie and others have added more patriotic touches to the area. A bulletin board that usually announces upcoming board meetings and reminds residents to clean up after their dogs now displays flashes of red, white and blue stars, flags and slogans: “Land that we Love,” “Oh my stars,” and “Sweet land of liberty.”

    Wednesday morning, Ginglardi placed a small black box with a flag atop the collection of mailboxes. Mackie pushed a button on the base, and the flag waved a bit to the tune of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” A second button push brought out “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

    Mackie admitted some residents find the displays a bit tacky. He laughs off the rebuffs.

    “A little bit too corny for you?” he said with a chuckle. “There should be more of this in America.”

    Mackie said a lot of veterans live in the meticulously landscaped Trading Cove Commons, and he wants to honor them, especially for the holiday weekend.

    He walks the neighborhood frequently. He keeps a wooden pole beside his house at 12 Trading Cove Circle to untangle flags when necessary. Mackie says he is the elder statesman of the neighborhood, having lived there about 20 years, but is the youngest board member. His wife, Irene, a retired record keeper at Backus Hospital, died two years ago.

    Trading Cove Commons consists of small homes nestled on a snaking network of private roads off Route 82 at the edge of Norwich. Bozrah is a stone’s throw to the west and Montville to the south. The first four homes were built in 2000 and 2001 by Salem Turnpike Housing Corp. on Hunting Ridge Lane. About 30 more followed over the next few years on Trading Cove Circle and Arrowhead Drive.

    Residents own their homes and pay maintenance fees to care for the meticulously groomed grounds and private roads, Mackie said. The board at times votes to raise fees if necessary, Mackie said.

    A short walk down Arrowhead Drive from the Route 82 intersection, and the constant traffic noise fades away. Mackie said the neighborhood has bear sightings every year. Turkeys “think they own the place,” he said.

    Ginglardi moved to 1 Hunting Ridge Lane in 2016, two years after his wife died. He keeps busy not only as board president but as a longtime driver education instructor. He used to take teen students on long drives throughout the region, calling it their “get lost” tour, telling them to turn here and there and then asking them to navigate home. Now, he just runs the online portion of the classes.

    “We do take pride here,” Ginglardi said of Trading Cove Commons neighborhood. “We have our problems, but with 35 people, who doesn’t?”


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