Trick-or-treating is the thing to do on Halloween. Spooky decorations? Free candy? What could be better? When I was growing up, I trick-or-treated every year, first with my parents, then with my friends when I was old enough. I stopped sometime in high school when my mom told me she would buy me all the candy I wanted instead. I didn't really like dressing up anyway, so you better believe I took her up on her offer.
But for many, putting on costumes and asking for candy is a joy, and I get it! I do! One grumpy town doesn't, though. Chesapeake, Virginia recently passed some Halloween-related ordinances that puts them toe-to-toe with that town in Footloose that banned dancing. And they went completely viral for it.
Yes, you are reading that correctly. They capped the acceptable age to trick-or-treat at 12 years old. Anyone older caught trick-or-treating was to be subject to a misdemeanor charge, a fine up to $100, and / or up to six months in jail. How totally absurd is that?
Additionally, anyone caught trick-or-treating after 8 p.m. would be charged, fined, and possibly jailed too. This isn't talking about kids who are caught vandalizing property or causing trouble. These laws are meant for any teen who decides they want to go out trick-or-treating. They simply can't anymore in the town of Chesapeake, Virginia.
This screenshot of Chesapeake's new Halloween ordinances made its way to Twitter, where it went completely viral and garnered countless negative reactions. "What kind of inhuman monsters think that's a good idea?" one person wrote.
"I think of all the things young people of all ages could be getting up to on Halloween night... I would much rather they just be out trick-or-treating in fun costumes with their friends! It's a fun, goofy, harmless, wholesome thing to do! If anything, we should be *encouraging* it!" someone else wrote.
Someone else chimed in with this: "I went trick-or-treating up until I was 18 cause I took my nieces and nephew every Halloween so their parents could relax and not worry about things." I know so many teens who went out with younger siblings or cousins or things like that. Why would you ban a whole swath of kids from participating in this wholesome, fun activity?
According to USA Today, Chesapeake's Halloween ordinances aren't actually all that new. They've apparently been on the books for decades. But since they've gotten so much attention, the city has reviewed and made changes to the laws. That was quick, eh?
Still, the new law only brings the maximum age for trick-or-treating up to 14. However, it does take possible jail time off the table, so that's good.
But the town's director of public communications Heath Covey "assures the public that police have never actually fined or jailed a teen for trick-or-treating and the law is in place only to prevent issues like teens stealing and smashing pumpkins... Chesapeake Police officers do not spend Halloween night checking the ages of those out enjoying trick-or-treating in a safe manner."
Here's the thing, though... Stealing and vandalism are already against the law. Why put a law on the books that makes it technically illegal for any teen to trick-or-treat at all?
Halloween should be fun for everyone, and it's hard when a few rotten apples try to spoil it for the whole bunch. But the vast majority of people of all ages just want to celebrate Halloween exactly the way it's meant to be celebrated. And we shouldn't punish anyone who seems to be "too old" for it.
The Swain Center, which provides speech therapy services, posted a reminder for this Halloween on Facebook. The poster explains that kids who grab too much candy might have motor-skill issues. The kids who don't say "Trick-or-treat!" or "Thank you!" might be non-verbal. And "The person who looks too old to be trick-or-treating might be developmentally delayed." It's a bowl of candy, folks. Let people have fun!