Sleepy Hollow Just Got Scarier
The headless horseman rides at Philipsburg Manor in “Horseman’s Hollow,” one of two new Halloween attractions presented by Historic Hudson Valley.
SWIRLING mist, eerie wails and a good share of blood and gore are transforming the nighttime grounds of Philipsburg Manor this month. Welcome to “Horseman’s Hollow,” one of Historic Hudson Valley’s two new Halloween attractions in the heart of Sleepy Hollow, where the Headless Horseman terrorized Ichabod Crane inWashington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Despite the popularity of Historic Hudson Valley’s “Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze,” with its illuminated displays of 4,000 hand-carved pumpkins, and the family-friendly “Legend Celebration,” some people wanted “a more intense, frightening experience,” said Rob Schweitzer, the organization’s director of public relations. “They wanted to be really scared.”
“Horseman’s Hollow,” an interactive haunted house environment, is populated with 42 professional actors enhanced by elaborate costumes and sets, special effects and dramatic lighting. Visitors travel indoors and outdoors along a half-mile candlelit path, where they encounter a series of ghoulish and startling scenarios. “It has a very high fear factor,” Mr. Schweitzer said. (The event is recommended for ages 14 and up, and has warnings for those who are claustrophobic or have respiratory conditions.)
In keeping with Irving’s “Legend,” all of the elements in “Horseman’s Hollow” are historically accurate to the late 18th century, when the short story was set. “Don’t expect chainsaws or run-of-the-mill Halloween stuff,” said Lance Hallowell, the attraction’s creative director. “A lot of the undead are actually Revolutionary War figures.”
These include Hessian soldiers and Redcoats, some decapitated, and historical characters like Major John André, the British spy who was hung in Tarrytown. There are also witches, vampires and ghosts, and, of course, the Headless Horseman himself.
In “Jonathan Kruk’s ‘Legend,’ ” also new this year, the Headless Horseman is conjured through storytelling, at one point with “head hideous in hand, ready to hurl it right at Ichabod Crane.”
Tamer than “Horseman’s Hollow” but still spooky, “Kruk’s ‘Legend’ ” features Mr. Kruk, a Hudson Valley storyteller, presenting his one-man adaptation of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Dressed in period garb complete with brass-buttoned military coat, ruffled shirt and tricorn hat, Mr. Kruk “tells the story from the viewpoint of the narrator, just like Irving, depicting the different characters through changes in voice and tone,” Mr. Schweitzer said.
Performances will be held by candlelight in the 325-year-old Old Dutch Church, across from Philipsburg Manor and beside the burial ground where the soldier who inspired the beheaded Hessian is said to be buried. Mr. Kruk will be accompanied by Jim Keyes, a musician, playing an original prelude and score on the church’s organ.
Like “Horseman’s Hollow,” “Jonathan Kruk’s ‘Legend’ ” was a response to feedback from patrons. In prior years, Mr. Kruk staged his retelling at “Legend Celebration.” “We heard from many visitors who loved seeing him perform, but wanted to do so in a more formal setting,” Mr. Schweitzer said. “And what better setting than the candlelit church?”
“Horseman’s Hollow,” Oct. 24, 28, 29 and 30, is at Philipsburg Manor, 381 North Broadway, Route 9, Sleepy Hollow. $20; timed ticket admission on the half-hour, 7 to 9:30 p.m. For ages 14 and up.
“Jonathan Kruk’s ‘Legend’ ” is at the Old Dutch Church, 420 North Broadway, Sleepy Hollow. Oct. 29 and 30, on the hour 6 to 9 p.m. $16; $12 under age 18. Advance reservations required.
For tickets and more information on Historic Hudson Valley events: (914) 631-8200 or hudsonvalley.org.