Trick or Treat: What’s the Age Limit?

To trick or treat is not the real question anymore. It is whether or not one is too old to do either

October 28, 2019


Creative Commons

Children go knocking on doors and receive candy from a neighbor on the night of Halloween.

Halloween has always been the one day of the year when kids are given the opportunity to obtain an overflowing supply of candy for free. They can be seen roaming the streets from door to door, receiving handfuls of Snickers, Twix, Skittles and so much more.


But at what age do kids stop trick-or-treating?


When some youngsters reach a certain age of what could be 12 or 13, they begin to develop this notion that this minuscule jump into “teendom” has deemed them too old and too cool to trick-or-treat. For others, it could be the age of 15 or 16 when they stop strolling from door to door on Oct. 31. 


Yet, this controversial decision of when one is too old to venture out in search of candy has become a social issue. It has become a scale of “how lame” one can be to still need to trick-or-treat with the toddlers. It has become a label of where one lies in the social hierarchy.


In all honesty, I believe the debate over this question is a mere psychological illusion into how the teenage mind defines the word “cool.” And what this definition is all depends upon how quickly one matures. 


For me, it was around the age of 12 when I switched out trick-or-treating for seeing scary movies at the theater or hanging out at a friend’s house. And it is fine that it may not be the same age for others. Like “Times” Magazine says, “The answers vary […] There is no widely accepted cutoff age for older children who want to wear costumes and demand candy on Oct. 31.” It all depends on personal preference. 


However, for the city of Chesapeake, Virginia, the answer to this question is not so simple. Since 1970, there has been an ordinance enacted to restrict anyone above the age of 12 from trick-or-treating. And it is not a restriction to be ignored because of the words “fine” and “jail-time” lie within the consequences. 


Children go knocking on doors and receive candy from a neighbor on the night of Halloween. (Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons)

According to “The New York Times,” the 1970 ordinance generally stated that “no one older than 12 was allowed to trick-or-treat and that anyone caught could be fined as much as $100, arrested and sent to jail for six months.”


Upon reading this, my initial reaction was shock. Complete, utter shock. 


And so was Jimmy Kimmel’s. Last year, Kimmel filmed a staged conversation with actor Fred Willard starring as a sergeant in Chesapeake, mocking the city’s extreme policy. 


“Don’t get me wrong, I do think trick-or-treating should be limited to little kids, not teenagers, but not with the threat of incarceration,” Kimmel said, sparking laughter in the audience on his late-night talk show. 


It is ridiculous that such severe consequences are imposed on such a trivial matter. As a result, what Twitter has designated as the “third most boring town in the United States” has received backlash for its unreasonable punishments.


Since then, they have raised the age limit to 14. 


And I would like to ensure that my viewpoint on this ordinance remains the same.


Whether one maybe 12 or 14, it should not matter when one ceases to trick-or-treat. The night of the 31st should allow anyone at any age the choice of doing what they think is fun. Some teens might be spotted at a party, while others are at home making cookies with a friend. 


And if some are still seen walking through the neighborhood on the pursuit for candy, let them be. 


After all, America is a free country. Something Virginia chose to forget.


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