Bob Zabel has raised five kids in his home on Tassel Avenue. He can stand outside on the street and chat with his neighbors, all of whom he knows by name. He has been known to dash next door to borrow a tool, or to grab a rake and pitch in with a neighbor's yard work.

"The neighborhood feels like the neighborhood I grew up in," he said.

Zabel has found a niche, a community within a community, on the streets of Sleepy Hollow.

In Gillette, residents not only identify with their town, but also have a strong association with their subdivision, a unique concept for a city its size, said Marty Shukert, an outside consultant for the city.

Sleepy Hollow began as a starter neighborhood for young families with kids, said Zabel, president of the homeowner's association.

It became known as a family friendly safe neighborhood, with the school as its centerpiece.

Halloween was always a huge deal, with trick-or-treaters flooding the neighborhood from all over Gillette and a resident dressing up and acting as the headless horseman, roaming the streets.

In 1983, the homeowner's association hosted its first subdivision picnic. Desserts, chairs and tables were brought out as 350 people from the 400-home neighborhood convened to socialize.

For years the first weekend in June was dubbed "Sleepy Hollow Days" where activities were scheduled to bring all the neighbors together.

In Sleepy Hollow, streets have names such as Pumpkin Court, Gunpowder Street, Ichabod Avenue and Raven Street.

Soon, one of the water towers will be decorated with a picture of the headless horseman, carrying out the theme of the community.

Developers may get to name their subdivisions and streets, but it is the residents who carry on the themes and traditions of a neighborhood, said Tom Langston, director of community development.

Like many of the subdivisions in Gillette, entering Sleepy Hollow gives residents and visitors a distinct sense of community and character.

- For more on this story, see Sunday's News-Record

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