Library’s Garden Rangers bring Headless Horseman to life

Garden Rangers who helped build the Headless Horseman include Joseph Strickland, from left, Thomas Strickland, Owen Jones, Caroline Strickland, Lilly Butler and Nolan Stussy. (RECORD PHOTO/GREGG PARKER)
Garden Rangers who helped build the Headless Horseman include Joseph Strickland, from left, Thomas Strickland, Owen Jones, Caroline Strickland, Lilly Butler and Nolan Stussy. (RECORD PHOTO/GREGG PARKER)

MADISON – Washington Irving would approve.

Garden Rangers at Madison Public Library reincarnated the Headless Horseman that terrorizes townsfolk in Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” They built a life-size model of the ominous horseman on his horse in the Madison Children’s Garden – A Living Library.

Garden Rangers is a club of elementary-age children who work in the living library.

In 2013, the rangers built the garden’s first scarecrow, simple with overalls and boots. “We joked about this year’s display and thought a headless scarecrow would be funny,” youth services librarian Maggie Allen said.

By great surprise, “they not only built a headless man but also his horse,” Allen said. “We’re the library — surrounded by such great ideas and stories. How could we not expand our ideas?”

Rangers in the build were Quinn and Lilly Butler; Morgan Dasher; Xander Fijak; Sierra and Logan Hardisty; and Caroline, Joseph and Thomas Strickland. Adult helpers were Allen, Dave and Liz Butler, Kathy Fijak and Amy Strickland.

“Only one person — a mom — said, ‘Don’t make it any scarier!’ The kids love it, and the Garden Rangers were very proud. It’s enormous,” Allen said. The Headless Horseman will ‘visit’ through October.

PVC pipe frames its ‘skeleton,’ with plastic bags and straw for stuffing. Allen sewed burlap for the horse’s ‘skin.’ More sewing and staples reinforced the form.

“I was really lucky with the horseman’s clothes … our Madison thrift stores are the best! I only spent about $5 on his whole costume,” Allen said.

The horseman may motivate young patrons to check out “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” “It’s definitely the right time of year for Ichabod, but it depends if you’re brave enough to read it,” Allen said.

Allen; Dave Butler, President, Friends of the Library; and Liz Butler sponsor the rangers.

During summer work, Garden Rangers created Peter Pan/Captain Hook for the “Once Upon a Time” display at Huntsville Botanical Garden.

For more information, call Allen at 256-461-0046 or email to mallen@hmcpl.org.

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