Thursday, October 10, 2019

A First in Honor of a Bicentennial

Today is the opening day of the first International Sleepy Hollow Film Festival, which I will miss because I will be busy working. This is quite the big deal for this 'little valley or rather lap of land, among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world'. The village of Sleepy Hollow was North Tarrytown until 1996, when the populace voted to change the name in order to maintain property values and jumpstart a tourism industry after the main employer in the town, a GM plant, closed. Finally, the town seems to be doing something to boost its status as a destination, having sponsored its first literary festival earlier this year.

These events are celebrations of the bicentennial of the publication, in serial form, of Washington Irving's The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., which was published in installment form from June 1819 to July 1820. The bicentennial of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which I reread every October will be next March. The 'Sketchbook' is in the public domain, and there has been a local push to read selections from the book, with a snazzy website to promote the project, and the region. My annual reread of the 'Legend' took place last week, when I was stuck at work playing keymaster for a bunch of contractors. I am always struck by Irving's keen eye for the natural world through which his characters move, his love for landscape, flora, and fauna. The various film and television adaptations are all about tall, dark, and headless, but my beloved Hudson Valley (remember, Yonkers is one of the Rivertowns) is the star of the original story.

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