Are you or your friends too old to go trick-or-treating? According to Chesapeake, Virginia and other cities, anyone over 12 has no business dressing up as their favorite Marvel character and knocking on doors for candy. Various news outlets recently reported that Chesapeake has a law on the books prohibiting teenagers from going trick-or-treating on Halloween.
Age Limits on Trick-or-Treating
Chesapeake city officials recently announced that trick-or-treaters older than 12 could be subject to a misdemeanor charge, imprisoned for up to six months, and receive between $25 and $100 in fines. Sounds pretty harsh, doesn’t it? But other cities like Meridian, Mississippi and Boonsboro, Maryland have similar statutes.
Most children decide on their own to stop trick-or-treating when they become teenagers, but what age do most people think should be the cut-off? An informal poll conducted by The Today Show revealed that 43% of participants believed young people should stop trick-or-treating between the ages of 13 and 18. Interestingly enough, 42% thought there should be no age limit. Perhaps some adults wish to relive their days dressing up and asking for candy?
Will teenagers really go to jail for trick-or-treating? According to Chesapeake city officials, the answer is “no.”
Chesapeake County Reverses Course
Mayor Richard West told Time magazine that he is “absolutely” for removing the law threatening jail time to teenagers caught showing up at houses in costumes and requesting candy. “We didn’t even know it existed until it went viral last Halloween,” he remarked.
Laws such as these were originally put into effect due to safety concerns. “There were problems, beginning in the ‘70s, when the ordinance was passed, with groups of older teenagers harassing younger kids,” said West. The mayor stated that classifying this particular offense as a misdemeanor was rather harsh and called it “ridiculous.”
Despite the fact that the law exists, the city never enforced it, and no teens have been arrested for engaging in Halloween activities.
Should the Government Restrict Trick-or-Treating?
While this story is quite amusing, it does bring up an interesting question: Should the government be involved in policing Halloween activities? While there might be some who believe that setting laws regarding trick-or-treating is appropriate, others could feel it is too much of an intrusion.
The United States was founded to protect liberty – even the freedom to ask for candy from one’s neighbors. If neighbors believe that an individual is too old, they can simply refuse to give out the candy. Unless, of course, they are frightened of a potential “trick.”
It appears that Chesapeake’s government understands this is not a priority issue, which is why the law has never been enforced. Even so, it is always wise to consider whether a law benefits society, or if it needlessly restricts freedom.