Recently I visited Sleepy Hollow New York to check out their local Horseman’s Hollow and Irvin’s Legend , which was performed by Jonathan Kruk. I have to say for such a small town it had plenty of history and was surely deck out in Halloween decor all over.
There is plenty to do and see in this town. I would recommend anyone interested in historically accurate tales, Fall foliage, this is one spot you should check out. After seeing the performance by Jonathan Kruk, I had to ask him a few questions, I had on my mind and would like to share his responses. Hope you enjoy and if you get a chance to see his performance, I would take the trip, it will be worth it.
1. Why is the Legend of Sleepy Hollow so popular now a days?
Washington Irving’s story of a headless horseman chasing a schoolmaster has always remained popular since it was published in 1819. It provides the model for what haunts us all. Ichabod Crane embodies our fearful, superstitious self. The Headless Horseman is the wanton wild frightening force. It is unreasonable and relentless. The story also gives a light romantic tone over the ominous possibility of ghosts. Irving gets us laughing rather nervously, and then unleashes the galloping goblin.
2. How did you get started in liking Sleepy Hollow?
About fifteen years ago Historic Hudson Valley wanted to change it’s haunted October programs to better reflect the locale and history. I knew many of the local legends and they consulted me. Washington Irving and the environs of Sleepy Hollow offer more than the usual share of Spirits. They decided to highlight our local history and ghosts often together. They recreated the ghosts of Sleepy Hollow. Abandoning their former Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula, we conjured up the “Tragical” Major Andre’s ghost, the wailing woman in white, Mother Hulda and her witches, and of course the “commander in chief of all powers of the air, … the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.” I told their tales while actors and portrayed them. It proved a big hit. People craved something authentic from the ghostly realm beyond Hollywood. Five years ago HHV expanded on the idea of locally grow ghosts. They developed the Great Pumpkin Blaze a wildly creative dislay of jack-o-lanterns. They created the gore fest known as Horseman’s Hollow. Finally, they moved me into the venerable 1685 Old Dutch Church, setting of Irving’s classic to perform a one man show of “the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Every year all shows sell out before my run even begins. People crave the authentic.
3. Is Halloween time busier than normal for you?
Halloween has long been my busiest time of year. Recent rising interest in Halloween by adults makes October over twenty percent of my work. I turn down many offers while still taking over forty bookings this month.
4. Do you watch the show or like what it says for in terms of the Irvin’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow?
I do watch the TV series “Sleepy Hollow” It’s rather a detectives of the supernatural show. I’m thrilled the producers take inspiration from the original “Legend.” Brom Bones, for example, is revealed as the headless horseman, though not as a “galloping goblin” but as the biblical demon of the apocalypse. Ichabod Crane in the original is charming like the actor Tom Mison. Still, there is no evidence of the uber-nerd Irving’s schoolmaster established long ago.
I cringe and cry however when the writers leap away to for ghosts and demons from far flung sources, when Irving and Sleepy Hollow offer some diabolical opportunities. This week for example featured a “piper-piper” type who mislead British troops away from Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow has Mother Hulda who according to legend did just that during Revolutionary times. The story could have centered around this misunderstood witch. They have neglected Major Andre, and the Native American spirits and curses too. I find it short sighted and sloppy.
5. What’s one fact or more that people are always surprised with the legend itself or do not know?
Legend means a story based on some truth. Fact is there was a Hessian artilleryman who lost his head around Halloween 1776! The Headless Horseman is real!
Photos at the bottom of this post and feature image are thanks to “History Trekker Shopper.”
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