by Jessica Zhang, Staff Writer, October 2020
Halloween is finally upon us – the day when everyone dresses up in random costumes to get as much candy as they can carry from strangers. But who is really “allowed” to go trick-or-treating?
There is a certain age that most people consider too old for trick-or-treating, usually around high school. In fact, there are towns all over the country with laws that ban kids over the age of 12 from trick-or-treating. In Belleville, Illinois, the “Halloween Solicitation” law does not permit kids past eighth grade to “appear on the streets, highways, public homes, private homes, or public places in the city to make trick-or-treat visitations.” Breaking the trick-or-treat law in Chesapeake, Virginia is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to $100. That’s some pretty scary stuff, and probably not the type of scare most people expect to receive on Halloween. In contrast, many people believe that kids of all ages deserve to get the full Halloween experience. So, how old is too old for trick-or-treating?
Bella Fynn-Thompson (Class II) is an avid supporter of kids of all ages trick-or-treating on Halloween night. In fact, she still trick-or-treats now and plans to continue doing so until she goes to college. “It just brings back all these memories of when I was a kid, and I used to go with my brother and my friends […] We would run and have competitions about who got the most candy,” Fynn-Thompson said. She thinks she will definitely miss the experience when she stops. “I feel like it’s one of the last things that you can still do at this age that keeps you a kid. Everything else is so grown-up,” Fynn-Thompson said. She emphasized that she feels pressure from many people to stop trick-or-treating. Since the age of 13, her parents have been telling her every year she’s too old to go; she’s also gotten a few weird looks from parents of younger trick-or-treaters. Despite the judgement, she is not fazed and sticks by her love for trick-or-treating.
Some other students seem to think differently. Caroline Plotner (Class IV) has not gone trick-or-treating since turning 13. Fortunately, she never received any judgement from other trick-or-treaters or her own parents. Instead, she and her friends just collectively decided not to go one year. “It got kind of boring after a while,” Plotner said. She thinks that laws banning kids older than 12 from trick-or-treating are a little extreme, but modified laws banning slightly older kids would be okay. “I’ve seen older boys just stealing candy bowls and running around with no costumes on. It can be a little annoying,” Plotner said.
Although Carter Bartel (Class III) stopped trick-or-treating in seventh grade like Plotner, his decision was more influenced by his age rather than a lack of enjoyment for the holiday. “I just felt really old that year. It was still really fun. It’s just kind of strange and you feel out of place when you’re as tall as the parents who are walking around with their seven year olds,” Bartel said. Now, he spends Halloween hanging out with friends and passing out candy to younger trick-or-treaters. Although Bartel himself does not go trick-or-treating, he supports the decision of older kids to still go. Upon learning about laws that ban older kids from trick-or-treating, he said, “I think those laws need to be thrown into the garbage can. I feel like it’s totally up to the person. I don’t think there should be a law restricting them from having fun once a year.”
Jordan Lysko (Class I) stopped trick-or-treating in seventh grade, but she still gets the experience by accompanying her younger sister. “It’s cute to watch the little kids get so excited about it,” Lysko said. If societal norms didn’t pressure kids to stop at a certain age, Lysko thinks she probably would still trick-or-treat. Like Bartel, she doesn’t agree with laws banning older trick-or-treaters. “There’s no reason why it should only be for younger kids as long as the older kids are still being respectful,” Lysko said. She misses the excitement that surrounded the holiday when she was younger, because Halloween isn’t as big of a deal for adults and older kids. When October 31 falls on a weekday, Lysko feels like it is just another day at school.
The general consensus seems to be that most high schoolers no longer go trick-or-treating, and that societal pressure often influences kids’ decision to stop. Most students seem to miss the tradition, both for fond childhood memories and getting as much candy as they can carry. Although there may be a socially acceptable age to stop trick-or-treating, Fynn-Thompson expressed an important sentiment: “I think that you should trick-or-treat for as long as you can.”