Some Towns Put an Age Limit on Trick-or-Treating

But Chesapeake no longer threatens jail time for under-12s
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2023 1:10 PM CDT
In Some Towns, Teens Are Banned From Trick-or-Treating
How old is too old?   (Getty Images/SeventyFour)

Halloween is almost here, and the debate is here again: How old is too old to go trick-or-treating? While it's generally agreed that nobody should still be asking door-to-door for candy when they hit their 20s, there's no consensus on the cut-off point for teenagers, NPR reports. Some towns still ban older teenagers from trick-or-treating, including Belleville, Illinois, where a city law states that it is "unlawful for any person to appear on the streets, highways, public homes, private homes or public places in the city to make trick or treat visitations" unless they are in the eighth grade or below."

Other cities and towns put the age limit at 12, 13, or 14. Curfews are also common, with Belleville putting the time limit at 8:30pm. In Chesapeake, one of many places in Virginia with an age limit on trick-or-treaters, a law dating from the 1970s used to threaten trick-or-treaters over 12 with six months in jail. In 2019, after the law was mocked by late-night hosts, the city raised the age limit to 14 and removed the threat of jail time, noting that nobody was ever arrested under the law, reports the New York Times. In Portsmouth, Virginia, where the age limit is still 12, police say an age limit helps stops teenagers causing disturbances—and taking all the candy.

Karen Sanford, a mother of four teens in Seattle, says she doesn't have a problem with teens "growing up in a very uncertain world" trying to recapture some of the magic of childhood. "When I see teenagers on my porch, I see big, awkward babies who act tough yet still need the love of mom. Opening my door and smiling is an easy chance to do this," she tells the Washington Post. "I hope I never get so jaded that I forget to do this." Her 17-year-old son Brady adds: "If we're not old enough to vote or drink, then we're still young enough to trick-or-treat." (Beverly Hills forbids young people from possessing shaving cream on Halloween.)

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