No more treats: When should we stop trick-or-treating?

As Halloween quickly approaches, I find myself thinking about what I miss from the holiday as a child. Decorating the house with my mom, spending hours deciding on which costume I wanted to wear for the big day and most importantly, trick-or-treating.

Trick-or-treating is the staple of Halloween. I participated until I was 13, which was when I started staying home to watch scary movies. Although, I appreciated others my age that still went out in search of free candy.

It came as a shock to me when I heard that Chesapeake, Virginia, passed a town ordinance declaring that anyone over the age of 13 caught trick-or-treating will face fines and jail sentences up to six months. I was even more shocked when it was rumored that a similar law could potentially be passed in Upper Deerfield Township, New Jersey. Thankfully, New Jersey has no such laws and these rumors are just rumors. However, it did make me wonder: What age do people feel they have to stop trick-or-treating?

There does not seem to be any specific age that people stop going door to door, mostly stopping between the ages of 12 and 16, according to Time magazine. 

Junior theater major Rebecca Ponticello falls into this statistic, citing Superstorm Sandy as the reason for her stopping.

“The last time I planned to go trick-or-treating was the year of Superstorm Sandy,” she said. “The weather was too bad to go out so I didn’t, and then every year after that I always had rehearsals or show days on Halloween, so I could never go out.”

Many other college students agree that the strongest storm of 2012 was the reason they stopped trick-or-treating, whether it be due strictly to the storm or a mixture of bad weather and growing out of the traditional Halloween experience.

Though not all teenagers stop trick-or-treating due to age. Senior dance major Rose Conroy-Voza said that she continued the tradition well into her sophomore year of college.

“I was a community assistant for Lake House, and a bunch of my residents and I dressed up and went out to houses around Lawrenceville,” Conroy-Voza said. “The people in the houses were cool with it too. They even seemed excited about it. They asked us ‘Are you students at Rider?’ and we all said yes and then they gave us candy.”

For Conroy-Voza, trick-or-treating past the age of 12 is not odd. In fact, she claims it is normal for teens in her hometown to trick-or-treat until they leave for college.

“I did it all through high school too,” she said. “In Pitman, all of the friend groups coordinate their costumes. One year my friends and I went as Disney characters.” 

To hear that the homeowners in Lawrenceville did not turn away costumed college kids during Halloween was a surprise, but as I researched more, it made sense.

In the words of author and etiquette expert Catherine Newman, “If a 17-year-old wants to dress up with their friends and trade candy at the end of the night, I think that’s great.”

Newman, the etiquette columnist for Real Simple magazine, said that people of all ages can enjoy trick-or-treating, so long as they do not wear any horrifyingly scary costumes, knock on doors late at night and are polite in the process. 

“Really, as long as you say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ you’re good to go,” Newman said.

The columnist also notes that children with developmental disabilities can also enjoy trick-or-treating, and that they should not feel ashamed to be a little older but still like the holiday festivities.

As we grow older, we try to act mature as best as we can as soon as possible. Instead of prowling the streets for free sweets, we go out to parties because it is what we believe is the grown-up thing to do. At some point, we internally cut ourselves off from the joy of trick-or-treating because we think it is not socially acceptable.

Halloween is intended to be a fun holiday, so much that some people celebrate for the entire month of October. It is fine to go to parties when we become teenagers, but is also OK to continuing trick-or-treating if we have fun with it. We should encourage children, teens and young adults to keep celebrating the spookiest day of the year in whatever way they see fit, whether it be with free candy, costume parties or a marathon of scary movies.

Jason Mount 

senior theater major

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