October 17, 2016

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Across the road from where I live is the quiet neighborhood of Sleepy Hollow. It's the street where my sisters and I go trick-or-treating every Halloween, ironically enough. But it wasn't until last week that my family and I visited the actual village of Sleepy Hollow in Westchester, New York. The town where the man behind the dark legend had lived and composed his famous works.

Our first stop was Sunnyside, the house of Washington Irving. The tour guide told us that it was common for parents like Irving's to name their children after great leaders like Washington and Jefferson, in hopes that they would also be destined for greatness. It must have worked out for Irving since his stories like "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" are still well-known, and his house has become a museum!

I love how the cottage is built near the Hudson river, and the walkway is composed of small pebbles to resemble pebble beaches.

There were arching rods supporting the roof over the back porch, and vines covering the pillars near the entrance. My mom said we might have to visit the house again in the spring to see how the purple wisteria blooms and adorns the house.

Irving wanted to create a romantic setting with the gardens and pathways that he designed around his property. He had once commented, "It is a beautiful spot, capable of being made a little paradise."

A water garden

In the evening, we went to the Old Dutch Church for a storytelling of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." It was the actual church mentioned in the legend which made the story more interesting to listen to since we were inside it.

For about an hour, we listened to the story-teller dramatically narrate the story of Ichabod Crane and what led to his mysterious disappearance in Tarrytown. The church organist would sometimes play low, eery-sounding music to add to the spookiness of the story. The story-teller, Jonathan Kruk, was dressed in colonial attire and always drew out the e's in "Sleeeeepy Hollow" for dramatic effect. Apparently, he has been performing "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" for over 6 years, so it's no wonder that he effortlessly narrated the story!

I've heard of the "headless horseman" before, but I didn't know that he was the villain of the legend of Sleepy Hollow. I also didn't know that he carried around a pumpkin to act as his "detached head" until he found a human head to replace it. Eeeek...

Once the story was finished and the story-teller had taken his bow, we walked out of the church towards a bridge where parts of the story had also taken place. The unkept look of it made it fit for the setting of a spooky, mysterious legend.

And so concluded our experience with the legend of Sleepy Hollow.

It was intriguing to see how much pride the village has in Washington Irving and his famous legend. They went so far as to change their name from North Tarrytown to Sleepy Hollow, call their high school teams "the Horsemen," and even make all of their street signs the color orange!

It must seem like Halloween in Sleepy Hollow all year-round!

To finish off our day trip, we attended the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze which is this unbelievably popular Halloween event where more than 7,000 pumpkins with different carvings and formations are on display. I will be making a post about our experience at the event very soon, so stay tuned for some incredible jack o'lantern pictures!

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