For many years, after we moved back to New York, we wanted to visit Sleepy Hollow at Halloween time. It probably has to do mostly with the Disney movie version of Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
If you somehow missed this classic, Bing Crosby is the narrator of the tale and does a good job telling the story and in the process poking a bit of fun at his earlier image as a crooner in the 1930s. But it is the finale of the cartoon when the Headless Horseman pursues the hapless Ichabod Crane that really captures the essence of Halloween and the terrors of the night.
So in 2007 we made our first trip (about 4 hours from where we live) and had such a good time, we returned again five years later. In addition to many events centered around the “Headless Horseman,” Old Dutch Church and its cemetery, Sleepy Hollow is a quaint place to visit.
It is nestled in the rolling hills on the east side of the Hudson, north of Tarrytown and the scenery in October is worth the trip alone. Near Tarrytown is the home of Washington Irving, Sunnyside, and also the Hudson Valley estate of the Rockefeller family,Kykuit.
Kykuit, rhymes with “high cut” according to Wikipedia, is a word of Dutch origin meaning “lookout” or “high point.” It began with a farm retreat and blossoming into a 40 room mansion and gardens. Both are worth a visit, if you have the time. But if not there is one thing not to miss: The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze.
The Blaze is held north of Sleepy Hollow at the Van Cortland Manor. More than 7,000 illuminated Jack O’ Lanterns surround this 18th century home.
There is every conceivable type of display from graveyards, to under the sea scenes, giant spiders and dinosaurs all made of hand-carved pumpkins. The event is held almost every night in October and we were lucky on our two visits that the weather was great.
You begin by walking toward the illuminated house, see below, through a large “graveyard” display of hundreds of Jack O’Lanterns.
The first year many of the carvings looked like grave stones, the second visit was a bit different with many on the ground and in various displays, like pyramids or totems.
Then there are many theme area such as the one below with a seabed scene, with fish, plants etc. carved in silhouette on the pumpkins.
Then there are giant spiders, dinosaurs, and much, more. People wandered around at their own paces, but you could clearly see that they were enthralled by it all.
Finally you exit, to a gift shop area of course, through a long tunnel of pumpkins overhead.
It was great fun and a source of ideas for our own Halloween house in Canandaigua.