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Holiday wreaths placed at the Old Burial Yard of Thirty Mile Island Plantation

by Sharon Challenger

Walking through a cemetery in winter when snow threatens to creep into your boots, may not be everyone’s “cup of tea.”  However, that is exactly what some good friends of The Old Burial Yard of Thirty Mile Island Plantation did this past December.  Their mission: to lay holiday wreaths on the graves of the Veterans.

When people hear the term “holiday spirit,”  it conjures up all sorts of thoughts about giving, love, family, sharing, and sacrifice.

Seeking to create some holiday spirit, members of the Caginalp family decided they wanted to do a charitable activity together during the season.  Over the years, they have baked bread for the food banks and worked at Ray of Light Farm in East Haddam.  More recently they decided to purchase and decorate wreaths to place on Veterans graves at Haddam’s historic cemetery.

The wreaths were carefully decorated by Stephanie Denkowicz, her husband Aydin Caginalp, daughter-in-law Erica, her husband Paul, and  Linn Caginalp.

On December 23, 2020, on a cloudy and cold New England day, Stephanie, granddaughter Clara, Erica, and Linn Caginalp gathered at the cemetery and proceeded to place thirty wreaths on the graves of Veterans.

When the season is over, Stephanie’s daughter Victoria and her husband Kyle will remove the wreaths and store them for next year’s holiday spirit activity.

“Thirty Mile Island Plantation Cemetery: This is the oldest burying ground in Haddam and the earliest remaining stone dates from 1711. Earlier unmarked graves may be located within the burying ground. Rev. David D. Field in his history of Haddam from 1814 states that the “Town yard in Haddam” was first laid out in 1662 but was not formally laid out until 1699. He also states that some “persons were buried on a knoll east of the dwelling of Mr. Joseph Clark, before any graveyard was laid out in the lower part of Haddam (Tylerville). Many of Haddam’s early and prominent residents are buried here including original proprietor Daniel Brainerd and the Widow Thankful Arnold.”  http://www.haddamhistory.org/cemeteries.htm

Sharon Challenger
I am a professional Scenic Artist and have also worked as a Systems Analyst and Senior Programmer Analyst for the Travelers and Yale University. Education: Post University, Wesleyan University and Yale University School of Drama.

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