Arts & Entertainment

With The Headless Horseman On Hand, Sleepy Hollow Kicks off a Bicentennial Celebration of Washington Irving

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In sharp contrast to the centuries-old image of poor Ichabod Crane straining to find his way through the darkness to safety and escape from the headless horseman in pursuit, the Old Dutch Church and its surrounding gravestones were awash in April sunlight as community leaders and politicians gathered to launch a two-year celebration of author Washington Irving and the Legend that has made the Village of Sleepy Hollow famous. As luck would have it, April 3rdwas the birthday of the legendary writer who helped shape American culture. He would have been 236.

Two hundred years ago also marked the first of a series of publications from Irvington’s The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., a collection of short stories among which was The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. To mark that bicentennial, Sleepy Hollow is embarking on a calendar chock-full of Irving-related events designed to deepen appreciation of the writer and his works as well as to promote Sleepy Hollow and its historic Hudson Valley environs as a tourist destination.

On hand at the Old Dutch Church was Westchester County Executive George Latimer, State Senator Peter Harckham and Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray, whose wife Lynn Moffatt, Legend Bicentennial Chair, served as mistress of ceremonies for the day. Together they unveiled a commemorative poster of Irving, cut into a birthday cake and offered public acknowledgments of the many local organizations that will be playing roles in the events going forward.

The next major event will be a May 18 one-day Sleepy Hollow “No Ordinary Lit Fest” that will feature more than 100 author readings, dramatic performances and other activities at local venues including the Warner Library, Patriots Park, the Tarrytown Music Hall, Jazz Forum Arts, the Old Dutch Church and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery—all focused on the works and inspirations of the author. That event is coordinated by the Hudson Valley Writers’ Workshop.

Throughout the summer and fall, there will be Washington Irving readings, walking tours, especially including the church and cemetery grounds highlighting local revolutionary war heroes and other figures who inspired Irving. Other venues will include Christ Church Tarrytown, where Irvington was a member of the vestry, and Sunnyside, his home on the Hudson at the border between Tarrytown and Irvington.

Then in the fall, when Sleepy Hollow draws thousands of tourists in a normal year, events like “The Blaze” will be expanded, as will events at Philipsburg Manor. There will be a film festival featuring the Disney animated version of the story, as well as Paramount Picture’s version directed by Tim Burton.

The Bicentennial celebration will culminate in an April 2020 academic conference let by the Historical Society and Historic Hudson Valley, featuring Irving biographer Andrew Burstein, author of The Original Knickerbocker: The Life and Times of Washington Irving.

For more bicentennial information and scheduled events, please visit:



Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray with State Senator Pete Harckham and County Executive George Latimer on the grounds of the Old Dutch Cemetery


(L to R) Sleepy Hollow resident Aubrey Hawes, Historic Hudson Valley President Waddell Stillman, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Legend Bicentennial Chair Lynn Moffat, Sleepy Hollow Mayor Ken Wray at The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow for the launch of the 18-month Legend Bicentennial.
Photo: Margaret Fox
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