Celebrating “The Legend” Bicentennial: What Washington Irving Means to Me

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by Richard Slingerland, Tarrytown Village Administrator – 

As many kids probably first experienced folklore and legends, my first experience with Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” were through Walt Disney. Growing up in Yonkers, with my grandparents living in Irvington at the time, my family provided me with early experiences reading his stories, visiting Sunnyside and listening to the Disney LP that had Washington Irving’s stories and songs on it.  It was a key part of American folklore to have his stories be part of my early experiences with writing and literature.

Here is the link to the LP record of the story of “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”  The song at 12:12 minutes on Rip Van Winkle is something I still recall as a child, and I passed along “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” tale to my daughter, nieces and nephews when they were young. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK856a4eY7Q

Washington Irving and his stories mean the same to me now if not much more than as a child, because of his being so strongly rooted to the Hudson rivertowns and Tarrytown, as well as being reinforced during my work here as Village Administrator.  He’s part of the fabric of the communities up and down the Hudson River, as well as part of the fabric of America.  Storytelling of the caliber that we experienced with writers like Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain, and other greats of American literature are part of our legacy, and here in Tarrytown we’re privileged to have him be woven directly into the cloth that makes up our history.

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