HALLOWEEN IN THE HUDSON VALLEY
Fall comes to New York’s Hudson Valley in October, just in time for area’s multitude of annual Halloween events. The town of Sleepy Hollow, immortalized in Washington Irving’s classic tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, welcomes thousands of visitors for all-things-Halloween during the entire month.
Years ago, I wrote an article for AAA Home & Away Magazine about the awesome Halloween events held in the beautiful towns skirting the Hudson River, including Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. And yet, I had never actually visited these legendary towns in the autumn, when the trees morph into variations of orange, crimson, and gold. When the air is crisp and the brisk wind nudges fallen leaves into the streets and walkways.
Several of these towns have Halloween parades, with costumed residents, floats, and bands. In Sleepy Hollow, Horseman’s Hollow is the biggest event, a lengthy, spread-out maze of dark and scary walk-through buildings filled with monsters, ghosts, and ghouls. They loosely represent the story of the Headless Horseman…who actually makes his appearance on his steed as you leave the Hollow.
Just south of Sleepy Hollow is Lyndhurst Mansion, a Gothic Mansion once used as the setting for the Dark Shadows television series and several creepy movies. Open for tours, the house’s beautiful interior is converted to a more Halloweenish, haunted décor at night, when costumed actors occupy the hallways, frightening the stream of guests who dare enter the realm of the unliving.
The little burg of Sleepy Hollow has assorted events, including readings of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (what else?), tours of author Washington Irving’s house, haunted hayrides, and lantern-led tours of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
By far, the most fantastic Halloween event, the Great Jack O'Lanter Blaze, takes place about 30 minutes north of Sleepy Hollow at the Van Courtlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. Some 10,000 pumpkins are carved and arranged into exhibits unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Follow the pumpkin-rimmed paths to see an over-sized pumpkin clock; life-sized dinosaurs; circus animals and a small train; a sea serpent; an enormous cake made from layers of elaborately carved pumpkins; ghosts, singing skeletons, and a giant spider web and super-sized arachnid, and much more…all made from myriads of the orange orbs. Volunteers scour the exhibits daily to make sure none of the pumpkins need to be replaced, a full-time job throughout the month.
Whether you live on the East Coast, or plan to visit during leaf-peeking season, don’t miss spending a few days in the gorgeous Hudson Valley. Visit www.hudsonvalley.org for more information. Tickets are available online.