Twenty Years Later—Recapturing Sleepy Hollow

by Henry John Steiner

Historian of Sleepy Hollow

Just a few personal thoughts…

I reflect with gratitude on an important date in Sleepy Hollow history, something particularly meaningful to me. Twenty years ago this month, along with many other dedicated folks, I helped to recover Sleepy Hollow’s identity. It was lost and we found it. That I am able to say this means a lot to me.

Henry Steiner-and-Chris Skelly.jpg

Henry Steiner and Christopher Skelly, Co-Leaders of the 1996 Sleepy Hollow Renaming

December 10th, 1996, was the rewarding culmination of a significant struggle. Through it, we were able to reinstate the legacy of Sleepy Hollow as an important historic and legendary American place. My colleagues and I saw the thing that we had worked so long and hard for finally come to pass. Many committed women and men joined in the campaign, and among them was my friend and Renaming Campaign co-leader, Christopher Skelly.

The Associated Press announces the renaming of Sleepy Hollow

The Associated Press announces the renaming of Sleepy Hollow

Chris and I had a long and rewarding partnership in this quest. For years we worked together to return the identity of Sleepy Hollow to its proper place. He and I each served terms as President of the Sleepy Hollow Society in the years leading up to the 1996 referendum. At the time of the vote it was Chris who held that office, while I continued in my perennial role as chairman of the society’s “renaming committee.”

Day one email from Skelly to Steiner

Day one email from Skelly to Steiner

For us the project of renaming the village demanded a great deal of time and personal commitment. It was a labor of love for both of us, a task that started out even before the unsuccessful village referendum of 1988. Chris and I vividly remember the dim and discouraging years when it seemed like we two were the only ones who truly believed that the Sleepy Hollow Renaming could still become a reality. Today, it might surprise many to learn that the idea of renaming the village was not in fact a “no-brainer.”

The Valley of Sleepy Hollow

The Valley of Sleepy Hollow

At this distance from the event it may be hard for many to understand the difficulties and uncertainties we struggled against in finally achieving our aim. Few will now remember the 1988 referendum. There was substantial resistance to the idea of renaming the village, opposition that we could only come to terms with through the efforts and the dedication of our many friends who participated in the campaign.


Christopher Skelly (right) at a Sleepy Hollow Society event

The referendum won. We celebrated. And we wondered what the future would hold. Now we have reached a milestone on the path to the future of Sleepy Hollow. The village is 142 years old, but it has only been reconnected to its famous identity for twenty years—on this December 10th, 2016.


Alice D. Croke, SHS Chair Person

I know Chris will join me in expressing appreciation and gratitude to those who worked with us—each for different reasons and each in his or her own way. They worked to bring about the important result on that day. Many of our most motivated colleagues in the campaign have sadly passed out of our lives in the past two decades, including my late wife, Judy. We celebrate their contributions to this important quest. To all who campaigned with us and to all who in this day call the Village of Sleepy Hollow their home, we say, Happy Twentieth Anniversary! This is the anniversary of the day we renamed our village Sleepy Hollow. The name was our legacy, and we recaptured it on that December day.


The late, Bill Lent, Sexton, O.D.C.

Over the years, we, the “name-changers,” have, somewhat sporadically, sought to observe the yearly anniversary of the 1996 renaming referendum by re-enacting a bell-ringing at the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow. It has been a tradition since the evening of the renaming vote. On that night, there was a spontaneous assembly at the Old Dutch, and members of our campaign rang out the news of the successful village renaming. It was a symbolic act and required the use of the three-century-old bell cast in Holland in 1685. The late, Bill Lent, sexton of the church at the time, helped to make that possible. For many years afterward, on December 10th, we would commemorate renaming anniversaries with other bell-ringings—when we remembered to. And then there were anniversary nights when no formal observance was planned. On such nights, I would get a late call from Bill Lent who wondered why nobody had showed up. Then I’d break away from what I was doing, jump into my car, and drive over to meet Bill. He and I would ring the bell ourselves. Bill died just a few years ago, and as the years go by, I confess, I miss that phone call…

Henry Steiner in the Valley of Sleepy Hollow

Henry Steiner in the Valley of Sleepy Hollow

This year, I think I will observe the 20th anniversary of the renaming in a quiet way—no bell-ringing, just a reflective walk on my own. Maybe I will hike along the Pocantico River into that place—that unique geographic feature long ago named Sleepy Hollow. It is that famous river valley that gave our village its name. I think one could say that Sleepy Hollow was lost for a long time, but we have managed to find it again…

The following list includes many of those who significantly supported and furthered this historic renaming effort. I regret that the list is unavoidably incomplete…

Lucy Ackerly

Bunny Adotta

Vita Adotta

Peter Alter

Mace Alter

Micki Alter

Bob Anello

Julia Anello

Lorraine Annicchiarico

Charlie Annicchiarico

Ed Apuzzo

Mark Arduino

Lucy Arnold

Mike Arnold

Lorraine Barstow

Jose Blano

Alice Bohunick

Patricia Brady

William E. Brady

Ed Burke

John Byelick

Bruce Campbell

Bob Carpenter

Penny Cassar

Aldo Ceconi

Arthur Ceconi

Amy Ceconi

Barbara Ceconi

Jeane Ceconi

Joan Ceconi

Walter Ceconi

Bobby Checci

Jose Chevere

Nicolas Cicchetti

Michael Collins

Tim Coon

Alice D. Croke

Michael Croke

William Crosbie

Joan Cusanelli

Pat Cusanelli

Josephine Daly

Elinor DiFelice

Mario DiFelice

James Donovan

Patricia Donovan

Kathy Doorley

Michael Doorley

John Edwards

Gloria Esposito

Dolores Foley

Charles Freyler

Silvia Freyler

Alex Fudali

Laura Fudali

Sandy Galef

Jeannie Galgano

Susan Galgano

Nancy J. Gartin

Kay Grala

Janet Getler

Richard Getler

Juergen Goldhagen

Janet Gondolfo

Jack Guerin

Rebecca Guerin

John T. Hayes, Jr.

Norma Herguth

Mary Ann Herlihy

Nancy Higgons

Peter Hildick-Smith

Chris Hlavatovic

John Hogan

George Hritz

John Hughes

Marypat Hughes

Ann Hull

Greg Hull

Washington Irving

Miguel Jimenez

Hugh Jones

Anne Kenney

Steve Kenney

Stephen Krall

Irene Laird

James Laird

Elizabeth Laite

Reginald Laite

Janice Landrum

Patricia Lawlor

William “Bill” Lent

Angelo Lomascolo

Helen Long

Bob Losier

Mary Lynch

Ned Mahoney

David Maloy

Shiela Maloy

Mary Ann Marshall

Elliot Martone

Margaret McGirl

Thomas McGirl

Sunny McLean

Patrick Monroe

Sonia Monroe

John Morabito

Tim Murphy

Anne Marie Nachel

John O’Leary

Betsy O’Leary

Andy O’Neil

Lena O’Neil

Joseph Ortiz

Charlie Ortiz

Connie Paige

James K. Paulding

Jack Perkins

Mary Petcoff

Baiba Pinnis

Margers Pinnis

Rosario Piomeli

Richard Plano

Estrella Pujadas

Anne Radelich

Joe Radelich

Patricia Ramsey

Phillip Ramsey

Frank Redican

Carmen Russo

Paula Russo

Eleanor Sabo

Steve Salman

Kay Schurr

Emelie Sciarpelletti

Eddie Siminowski

Vicki Siminowski

Jack Sinnot

Christopher Skelly

Emilie Spaulding

Richard Spaulding

Henry Steiner

Judith Steiner

Don Stever

Bill Stupel

Evelyn Stupel

Betsy Swanson

Staci Swedeen

Laurel Sweet

Richard Sweet

Jan Timmings

Sean Treacy

Susan Treacy

Jean-Pierre Van Lent

Robert Volpacchio

John Vydareny

Julia Vydareny

Paul S. Vydareny

Kevin Weaver

Richard Weiss

Pete Werner

the Whalen brothers

Beth Zolkind

Neil Zolkind

Barbara Zegarelli

Irene Zegarelli

Phillip Zegarelli


©2016 Henry John Steiner

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  1. Charles Cattanach

    Born and raised in (NT) Sleepy Hollow. Growing up I roamed the Pocantico river from beginning to end in the late 40s to late 50s. It was my play ground and teacher. I still have a reverence for it today

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