Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Magic Forest: Storybook Forest

I know I've posted a lot about the Magic Forest, but there were so many wonderful, weird, creepy, strange and ridiculous things contained within the relatively small park that I'm still having a hard time grasping the scope of it all (this will be my last post on it though—unless until I go back).

Most of the park felt very collected rather than curated. Figures of varying styles and genres are placed around seemingly haphazardly—Santa next to Uncle Sam, chickens next to elephants, Robin Hood next to the Easter Bunny. Things get slightly more cohesive when you enter the Storybook Forest section, although the style of the figures still varies wildly from scene to scene.

A large portion of the figures are of the glassy-eyed, often open-mouthed variety that is common throughout the park. It's pretty obvious that these figures were all made by the same person, and they're the reason I though this post was Halloween-week appropriate—they're terrifying.

As the name implies, the Storybook Forest includes figures and scenes that can be found in classic storybooks and nursery rhymes. Goldilocks and her three bears (which looked an awful lot like seals), the Old Lady in the Shoe, the Mad Hatter, Jack Sprat (and his wife), Little Jack Horner and Little Boy Blue are just some of the stories represented.

Like a lot of other things in the Magic Forest, most of the storybook scenes were broken or damaged in some way. Almost all had buttons that, when pushed would tell the story on which the scene was based—in theory. I think I pushed every one and had about a 10% success rate, but it should be obvious by now that a large part of the Magic Forest's appeal to me was its scrappiness.

And like finding a Van Tassel headstone at Green-Wood, I was thrilled to see two classic Washington Irving stories represented: Rip Van Winkle and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which both felt right at home in the overgrown, cobweb-covered, slightly spooky and entirely wonderful Storybook Forest.

See all posts about the Magic Forest

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sleepy Hollow, New York

We recently went on our third annual day trip to the village of Sleepy Hollow—formerly known as North Tarrytown—which is located about an hour north of the city in the Hudson River Valley. Although Washington Irving published his classic short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in 1820, North Tarrytown didn't officially adopt the name until 1996.

The village is very small, but they definitely embrace its association with Halloween, and have fully adopted the headless horseman as their village mascot. He appears on everything from the street signs to the fire trucks, sanitation vehicles and police badges—even the high school football team is called the Horsemen.

We started off the day by seeing the Chagall and Matisse windows at Union Church, which is located in the picturesque neighborhood of Pocantico Hills, northeast of Sleepy Hollow. Photos aren't allowed inside of the church, but it's definitely worth the trek (we took Uber) to see the incredible glasswork by two insanely-talented artists. The Matisse window is widely believed to be his last work and Union Church is one of only three places in the US to see Chagall glass.

We wandered around taking in—and taking photos with—the festive sights, drank pumpkin beers and hot cider, took a lantern tour of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, were scared and impressed walking through the creepy Horseman's Hollow and I came away with a floaty pen featuring the headless horseman—this is Halloween.

More Sleepy Hollow: The Great Jack 'O Lantern Blaze  |  Lyndhurst  |  Sunnyside + Kykuit  |  Sleepy Hollow Cemetery