Katrina Van Tassel Rides Again... For The Last Time? October 27, 2016 11:30
(If this is the first you've heard of it, you can read more about my fondness and admiration for The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad -- more specifically, the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" portion of the film -- in this blog post from 2014.)
My wife Jess donned her extraordinarily beautiful Katrina Van Tassel costume (crafted by Dot and her talented team at Trashy Lingerie) and we made for the park to take in all the sights, sounds, and amazing decorations and costumes that put us in the spirit of the season. This was a particularly perfect year for Jess to arrive as Katrina Van Tassel, as the Halloween parade was led by the Headless Horseman himself! Yep, riding a huge black horse, he made his headless way down Main Street clutching a glowing pumpkin in his hand. Really, really fantastic. It was good to see that Disneyland hadn't forgotten "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and its wonderful characters.
Every year, Jess and I make a little bet as to how many people might recognize her as Katrina. Now, granted, there's more than one version of Katrina in the film. Katrina appears in two forms in the featurette: when Katrina first appears, she's riding in a carriage, carrying a green parasol, and wearing a little white Dutch cap; later, during the all-important Halloween party at Baron Van Tassel's farm, Katrina appears without her hat, and wearing blue ribbons in her hair. After careful consideration, Jess chose the party version of Katrina as the perfect costume for Halloween.
Just as a little extra theming, in a nod to the Headless Horseman's jack-o'-lantern noggin, Jess always carries a bright orange pumpkin with her as she strolls the park.
One of the things we've come to realize over the years is that Katrina is one of the lesser-known of the Disney heroines. And visiting the park isn't just fun, it's a way to awaken some people to the existence of the character and the marvelous film she appears in. As for the recognizing bit, Jess felt it was a long shot, but I'm always confident that someone will call her name!
Now, most of the time, people's minds are fixated on seeing princesses, and Jess got the usual multiple mistaken identifications as Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. It makes some sense, as Aurora is blonde and does wear a pink dress. And perhaps people thought the pumpkin that Jess carried was just because she was trick-or-treating. The pigtails should have been a clue as to the mistake, but, oh well. One little girl thought that Jess was Elsa, which was funny. One fellow said that Jess was Cinderella, "pre-destruction," which means he thought Jess was the Cinderella that was wearing the pink animal-made dress that gets all ripped up by the stepsisters a few minutes after it is completed.
So it was looking pretty dire for most of the night, but I'm happy to say that I did indeed win the bet once again, as not one but two people knew who Jess was portraying. One Cast Member and one fellow guest called out Katrina's name when they saw Jess. Incidentally, the guest was dressed as Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in her red Feast of Fools dress. Esmeralda even expressed interest in dressing like Katrina next year.
But she'd better be careful! Katrina Van Tassel is potentially going from the endangered list to fully extinct at Mickey's Halloween Party. This may possibly have been the last year that Jess lights up the streets of Disneyland as Katrina. Why? It appears that there are ever-increasing restrictions for costumes year to year, and this is the first time in three visits to this event that Jess and I were pulled aside before being allowed into the park.
Seems the hoop-skirted dress was a no-no this time around, as there was a concern that such a structure might get caught in the ride vehicles. After assuring a small gathering of park administrators -- who were debating whether to send us back to our car -- that we never ride rides on that night (which is very true... as though Jess would go on Space Mountain in such a get-up!), they relented and allowed Katrina to bring some spooky cheer to Disneyland once more, and to wave to the Headless Horseman as he led the Halloween parade down Main Street.
Here's wishing everyone a happy Halloween!