Topic: Halloween Special
RETURN TO SLEEPY HOLLOW
By Timothy Green Beckley and Circe
By Timothy Green Beckley and Circe
Recently, we deployed our company ghoul and likeable horror movie host Mr Creepo (aka "Mr UFO" - Tim Beckley) along with sexy vamp hunter and Creepo henchwoman Circe (or is that wenchwoman?) to check out rumors of a revival of paranormal activity in the dreamy village of Sleepy Hollow, New York, and neighboring Tarrytown.
Though our budget was small, the researchers managed to drink and eat -- mainly drink -- themselves into a tizzy as if possessed by glutinous spirits. Very much, we fear, like the early farmers whose wives accused them of "tarrying" to long on market day at the local tavern, thus the name Tarrytown was born. In any respect we present their -- pardon the expression - "sobering" -- report.
The cool autumn air sits in just before twilight and a breeze starts to drift in from the Hudson River, just down the road a bit from where legend has it Ichabod Crane was chased by the headless horseman.
Indeed, the bridge and adjacent brook where Crane soiled his pants in an attempt to run for his life still stands, albeit part of the main drag that goes through town, a road now used by truckers, buses and SUV's coming up from Manhattan a scant 40-minute drive away.
Many commuters unwilling to drive in the midst of quite ghostly (I mean ghastly) traffic take to the rails, hopping onboard one of the numerous commuter trains that make the trip from the Big Apple all day and well into the evening hours.
Folding back the pages of the New York Post (we are much to blue collar to read the Times) and gazing out the window one would hardly guess that he area is particularly rich in paranormal lore. But as you pass White Plains and the office buildings start to diminish in height and number you can start to be thankful that Circe is your traveling companion as ghouls know well to leave her be. We figure it has to be the garlic in her bag, but she insists it is the lovely charms she makes and wears to ward off negativity and things that go bump in the night.
But, indeed the truth sometimes can be very strange. For it is along this very route to Sleepy Hollow back in 1982 that thousands craned their necks out of car windows to watch as a silent, giant, black-shaped triangle filled the sky, much like the cloak of the headless horseman is said to have done as the phantom glided through the thickets and glades of this same community in the early eighteen hundreds.
One of our first destinations was the Sleepy Hollow cemetery to visit some of the communities founding members. Circe (made infamous for her role of Muffy in my low budget vampire flix, The Curse of Ed Wood) was perched on a tombstone while I frolicked with the angels near the grave of Washington Irving.
Switching into a serious mode, I remarked how I could recall numerous conversations with fellow researcher Philip Imbrogno whose book Night Siege: The Hudson Valley UFO Sightings fairly well documents the numerous close encounters in the area. I told Circe how Phil, a teacher by profession (strange, wasn't Ichabod Crane also a teacher?) had started out as a conservative investigator of unexplainable aerial phenomena only to end up photographing ghost lights and confronting time distortions (to find out more order my book Our Alient Planet: This Eerie Earth in the Conspiracy Journal bookstore). All within a few square rural miles of where we were now standing.
During the course of our investigation in the area, we drove over into Connecticut to hunt down giant Jack 'O' Lanterns known to be harassing residents near an outdoor farmers market. This was pretty much the same trek truck drivers had been on that fright filled night in 1982 when they rubbed 18 wheelers with a "thing" the size of a 747 that tailed them at less than a thousand feet in the air. Around the same time the mysterious men in black showed up to persuade witnesses to back off from telling of their encounters with the unknown. Many similar tales exist from the time of Washington Irving who also spoke of nightmarish figures cloaked in black who staked those who dared discuss their own paranormal misadventures.
Those who have followed such matters will be able to confirm that often times places that have a reputation for being "haunted" have a long history of paranormal phenomenon.
Indeed, it was Circe that reminded me that Washington Irving had, himself, speculated on this very "coincidence" in his Legend of Sleepy Hollow tale. To prove her point, she cracked opened a copy of Irving's book just purchased at the Kyjuit gift shop on the Rockefeller Foundation estate, scene of the annual Halloween activities that tourists flock to this region along the Hudson every fall season.
To quote Irving: "A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place was bewitched by a high German doctor during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them t walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, an frequently see strange sights and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country. . . "
One almost has to scratch their head in disbelief that this paragraph was written two hundred -- give or take -- years ago. It seems like something a contemporary ghost hunter like our pal Joshua Warren might write in one of his scripts for the Discovery Channel.
As we hunkered down for the evening -- after hours of paranormal musings -- we couldn't help but reflect on how the area seemingly abounds in the macabre. In fact, all around us were signs and symbols that a spooky October was in the works for the area just up the river from our vampiric crypts.
THE GREAT JACK 'O LANTERN BLAZE
Three thousand hand carved pumpkins are the decidedly spooky backdrop for a spine tingling event set on the grounds of the 18th Century Van Courtland Manor. You might be a bit too scared to nip away at those pumpkin cookies or sip down that warming cup of hot apple cider, as you experience the SCARECROW AVALANCHE and PUMPKIN PROMENADE.
THE HORSEMAN STILL RIDES!
Join Jonathan Kruk for a lively reading and reenactment of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow at the Philipsburg Manor. For Legend Weekend (October 28-30) there will be candle lanterns and bonfires, and a haunted landscape to set the mood. Say doesn't that fellow with the crooked nose over there look like??? Nah, it can't be!
Sponsored by the Historic Hudson Valley Society, more information can be found at: www.hudsonvalley.org or for ticket information call 9l4-631-8200.
WHERE TO STAY
Numerous bed and breakfasts dot the scenic area. The Doubletree right on the Hudson offers a breathtaking view, but we were stopped at the entrance by the burly ghoul in charge who informed us before we even had time to twist our heads around, that the palatial estate was being renovated and thus closed to all. So I guess even the Horseman won't be staying there on Ole Hallows Eve.
If your budget is up to it and you are looking for really lavish grounds, go ahead and plop yourself down on one of the beds at the Tarrytown House. The restaurant wasn't open when we where there so we had to venture out into the crisp autumn air. This slight incontinence was offset by the use of the heated indoor pool (just call me Creepo the prune) and the fact looking out the window at around 3 AM I thought I saw a specter under the flood lights in back of the complex where we should have been fast asleep and not watching the Sci Fi Channel.
WHERE TO EAT
For lunch there is the Horseman saloon and the Sleepy Hollow Cafe (service is fine but if your seated outside you notice the sidewalk slants more than it does in one of those mystery vortex spots).
For about the best meal ever in an absolutely superb setting stop by Harvest-on-the Hudson in Hasting on the Hudson. Its right on the Hudson (boy isn't that repetitive) and outdoor dinning for lunch will be a treat you won't forget for a long time. Lots of indoor seating as well, and a bar that goes on for miles (thank you, but we had our Bloody Mary's on the lawn).
Thus ended our little adventure...Being psycho -- I mean psychic -- I asked Circe about the vibes. She didn't appear to be scared out of her wits despite the traffic headed home, so I guess the spirits weren't as restless as they might have been.
So do we plan to return to Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown to search for more spirits? It could well be that sometime in the not to distant future we might set up shop to film our own version of Sleepy Hollow -- except it will called CREEPY HOLLOW.
Happy Halloween from Mr Creepo, Circe, and the staff of the Conspiracy Journal