Sleepy Hollow Threesome

What better way to celebrate the Halloween season than with a trip to Sleepy Hollow, New York? Last weekend I did just that, seeing a trio of terrific attractions.

First up: an afternoon tour of the Lyndhurst Mansion, the Gothic Revival marvel that provided the exterior shots of Collinwood in the original Dark Shadows TV series. The mansion was dressed up for the season inside and out, creating a wonderful atmosphere even in daytime (at night, Lyndhurst stages “Jay Ghoul’s House of Curiosities”; this year’s event brings the murder-mystery game Clue to life). One of the surprising things I learned on the tour is just how faux the mansion is in its design (e.g. the dining room walls are painted to have the appearance of wallpaper), such fakery being en vogue at the time of its construction.

Nightfall brought a second excursion: the chiaroscuro splendor of a lantern-lit tour of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. This two-hour walk-through offered ultimate ambiance as well as vigorous exercise (along the cemetery’s sloping and mostly-unpaved pathways). Stops along the way included Washington Irving’s gravesite and the actual mausoleum used for Carolyn’s funeral scene in House of Dark Shadows (we found a special surprise waiting for us when we were allowed to venture inside). For me, one of the highlights of the night was visiting the burial place of lesser-known poet Francis Saltus Saltus and learning of his macabre poem “The Delights of Doom.” Our tour guide, Sandy, was simply amazing; she brimmed with enthusiasm and personality as she showed us the sights and regaled us with tales. I wholeheartedly recommend requesting her if you ever decide to take one of the cemetery’s tours.

The evening concluded with a crossing over to the Horseman’s Hollow haunted attraction on the grounds of Philipsburg Manor. The actors sported splendid make-up and were positively fiendish in their performances. Although lacking the grand scale of the Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses in Ulster Park, New York (reviewed here), Horseman’s Hollow is an enjoyable haunt, presenting good sets (I particularly liked the ghoulish schoolhouse) and genuine scares. The attraction was a bit difficult to access, in terms of parking and finding the entrance, but the long walk to it down a barely-lit beaten path proved just as eerie as anything encountered inside.

These three attractions formed a perfect trifecta of fall entertainment, and don’t even cover everything there is to experience in Sleepy Hollow. If the opportunity to make a trip there ever presents itself, I encourage you to race over there quicker than Ichabod on a midnight dash.

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