Gertrude Stein once wrote, “Anything one does every day is important and imposing and anywhere one lives is interesting and beautiful.” Of course she was living in Paris, France, at the time, not Paris, Texas, so I take it with a grain of salt. But after being back in Tarrytown for five months straight now, I realize what an interesting and beautiful and unique place it is. That realization was brought home to me when some guests from Rochester, New York, on my Sleepy Hollow Halloween Tour remarked on the hilly terrain and the narrow winding streets of this former Dutch colony, so unlike the flat landscape and straight streets of their own hometown.
In fact, the name “Tarrytown” is a corruption of the Dutch word for wheat, “twere,” which grew well in the local soil, and “town.” Its hills, hollows, and dales were the inspiration for Washington Irving’s 1820 story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” which still inspires people nearly 100 years later to visit the area especially during Halloween.
My guests also remarked on the lack of shopping centers in town – this is because all the land was already in use by the time chain and box stores came along. This allows our unique independent retailers and restaurateurs on and around Main Street to thrive. Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, California, “there is no there, there.” What she meant was that her former home had been torn down, but now that phrase is used to mean a place without personality. Well, there is definitely a “there” in Tarrytown.
Many movies have been filmed on and around Tarrytown’s unspoiled and classic Main Street, so it’s not a surprise that the street looks familiar to visitors. The strangely titled but eerie 1943 movie, The Curse of the Cat People, starring Simone Simon was set in spooky Tarrytown. Its producer, Val Lewton, grew up not far away and was a fan of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” It has one of the most beautiful song settings I have ever heard, a Christmas song in French called “Il Est Né, le Divin Enfant” – “The divine child is born” – which Simon sings in counterpoint to a group of carolers singing “Shepherds Shake Off your Drowsy Sleep.” It gives me chills.
The citizens of Tarrytown and its sister village, North Tarrytown, renamed “Sleepy Hollow” in 1997, are aware of their villages’ unique beauty and enhance them with decorations for each holiday, in particular Halloween and Christmas. For Halloween, there are scarecrows attached to each old-fashioned lamppost, unique Halloween themed displays in the stores (no visual merchandising managers involved), and windows painted by children. For the winter holidays, each tree on Main Street is wrapped in twinkling white lights lending it a magical air. If it snows, even better!
We’re celebrating the magic and mystery of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow this holiday season with our Magical Mystery Holiday Tours which will envelop us in the warm glow of a small-town holiday celebration. Each night is different depending on what is happening in town. Every night includes a visit to holiday decorated Lyndhurst Mansion, once owned by railroad baron Jay Gould from Roxbury, NY, (another of my favorite haunts) in the Catskills, described as one of the “Ten Best Historic Holiday Tours” by USA Today. On Saturday, November 25, we’ll celebrate Small Store Saturday with a walking/shopping tour of historic Tarrytown, a guided tour to Lyndhurst Mansion, and dinner at the Tarry Tavern, a modern farmhouse style eatery. You’ll leave town with some unique presents as well as a warm glow, and not just from the wine!
On Sunday, November 26, on our Magical Mystery Tour, we’ll help Sherlock Holmes solve a mystery in “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” set at Lyndhurst Mansion, as well as have a walking/shopping tour of Tarrytown, a guided tour of Lyndhurst, dinner at the Tarry Tavern, and a partridge in a pear tree! (If my neighbor puts up the partridge in his pear tree again this year.)
Peg, a guest on our Sleepy Hollow Halloween Tour had this to say, “Thanks Liz - we really enjoyed the tour and we especially loved spending some time with you and getting to know you a bit! You made Sleepy Hollow fun and memorable for us! So happy we chose your tour. You were such a wonderful hostess in every way. I’ll keep my eyes open for future tours and I hope our paths cross again!”
Amber wrote, “I just wanted to thank you again for such a wonderful tour & how great a time we had!!! We truly loved sleepy hollow & think it may even be a yearly tradition for us now! You were so wonderful & it was great meeting you! We hope to take another one of your tours (hopefully in Europe) again sometime!”
RESERVE NOW as tours are limited to 6 people per day. Tickets to the Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle are sold out, but I have some for 6 lucky people! Plan your post-Thanksgiving celebration today! Call me, Liz, at 914-909-5079, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or reserve online by clicking “Order.” See you in downtown Tarrytown!