Who's Too Old to Trick or Treat? - Local Laws Mandate Age Restrictions

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Changing Social Customs

Other than a fun party and neighborhood costume parade from school around the block each of three years in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades, I didn't have Halloween activities as a child. The holiday was just not very popular.

The school must have decided that age 9 or 10 was too old for Trick or Treating, at least at the school. That didn't stop the high school kids from the activity on Beggars Night, but it was mostly the boys and none of them wore costumes. Some of them even smoked as they went from door to door!

My mother handed out candy for a couple of years on Beggar's Night before Halloween, but stopped when vandalism became too big a problem. Our city also held Penny Night earlier in the week, in which kids want door to door in costume to collect pennies and nickels for UNICEF. I was not to participate in either, though. So, when I left home to work after high school and began teaching a Sunday School class, there was my opportunity - and I didn't feel too old.

The kids in the Sunday School class needed an extra adult to be with them on Beggars Night, so I put on an old costume and joined them. During senior year in high school, the district sponsored a mock political convention as a field trip and report project and some of us had sewed donkey and elephant costumes to represent the mascots. Mine was a donkey and I'd kept it. That saved buying a costume!

Carnivale
Carnivale | Source

The children all had a good time that night, but I must say I was a little bored, although I enjoyed seeing the little costumes. Especially enjoyable were the kids dressed as little pumpkins and one was dressed as a bunch of grapes in a leotard, tights, and inflated green balloons. One boy dressed as a serial killer though, and reactions to him were pretty negative, so I don't think it was a good costume.

No age limit can be placed on having a creative good time like this with such costumes; so I'd like to see a college art class design some interesting gear and go Trick or Treating -- I wonder if Lady Gaga goes out on Halloween for candy with Haus of Gaga? I think a lot of people would like her to show up at their door!

Lots of people of all ages like to be superheroes.
Lots of people of all ages like to be superheroes. | Source

How about an architectural class building person-size futuristic homes as costumes and Trick or Treating? That would be fun to see and I HAVE seen someone dress as the Empire State Building and as the Eiffel Tower.

All this brings Trick or Treating past the teen years and into the 20s. With older young adults participating, the Trick or Treat route might turn into more of a Doo Dah Parade and that might be very much fun! - More like Mardi Gras than Halloween.

Until that time, some of the communities of my city hold community parties and rec centers and party houses instead of having Trick or Treat and this is fine for teens and college-aged adults, too. Sometimes, parents dress up and go with their children.

Candy and apple bobbing does not move me, though. I'd rather have a pie than candy, so if the householders were giving out pies on Halloween, I'd be excited!

Seniors In Costume

Seniors like costumes, too. This is a 50th High School Reunion bash on June 3, 2006 in Princeton, New Jersey.
Seniors like costumes, too. This is a 50th High School Reunion bash on June 3, 2006 in Princeton, New Jersey. | Source

How About Seniors?

Are Senior Citizens too old to go out Trick or Treating? I've never seen any do so, but I'd like to see some healthy older people go out on the circuit with chaperones, if needed for protection, and find out what kind of reception they'd get. They'd need to have innovative costumes as well and I bet they'd have a lot of good ideas. After all, they may have decades of memories they can still access.

There must be little worse than spending a holiday alone at home or in a retirement center with little of the way of entertainment, celebration, or companionship - and thinking about departed friends. Some upscale retirement complexes offer catered parties, but these facilities are usually too expensive for an average Senior to live in them.

Perhaps if a group of Seniors wished to go Trick or Treating, a younger companion or two could drive drive along with them, parking at the curb if the Seniors tired and needed to place to sit for a few minutes. I wonder how many would be invited into house parties that were going on along the route? One cannot be certain.

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At a costume parade.
At a costume parade.
At a costume parade. | Source
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Trick or Treat Problems

When I was a kid, the one group of non-costumed, smoking teen boys going door to door on Beggars Night created problems with lack of manners, stealing candy from kids, and pushing small children out of the way. Vandalism ala broken windows, and egg and dent damaged autos occurred as well. Such destruction can put a permanent end to Halloween Trick or Treat.

In some communities (like Belleville,Illinois and Meridian, Mississippi and others), ABC News reported mandated age limits and the fact that certain mayors levied $100 fines for people over age 12 if they were caught Trick or Treating. Newport News, Virgina police warn teens once to get off the Trick or Treat routes, then call parents or take the teens in. Some reports received by ABC in 2010 mentioned that groups of teens Trick or Treating scared single moms and Senior Citizens. (Reference: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory?id=11949660).

Another problem with Trick ot Treat Night is that in larger cities, small groups of teens in the wealthy districts organize. They take garbage bags to load up with Trick or Treat rewards in the other neighborhoods and insist on extra candy. They continue to knock on doors after the cut-off times as well. This has brought the activity to an end for everyone in some neighborhoods.

Too old! Too old!
Too old! Too old!

If teens can't Trick or Treat legally, then Senior Citizens are too old to do so as well, by law. If safety could be ensured, however, I think Senior Citizens dressed as classic literary figures and superheros would have a good time. I'd like it if Edgar Allan Poe knocked on the door and recited The Raven.

Denny Crane might be funnier, though.

So, I say let's have Doo Dah Parades for Trick or Treat and a special Senior Citizens Night.

Until Then...Cårven Der Pümpkîn, Old Guys in the Balcony

Muppets at Halloween

Below, 10 people portray the Yip-Yips from The Muppets and Sesame Street. I'd like to see the group Trick or Treating. I suppose the candy would go into the "mouth."

Doo Dah, Doo Dah...

© 2011 Patty Inglish

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Comments 28 comments

nybride710 profile image

nybride710 4 years ago from Minnesota

My 15 year old daughter is 5 foot 9, looks at least 18 and wants to go trick or treating. I told her I think she's too old, so she is offering to take her 12 year old sister, who is also probably too old. I won't stop them from going as maybe they need to experience embarrassment to quelch the desire to trick or treat. The past few years we have gone to a party at our church on Halloween, so I'm hoping they will want to do that this year too.


whynot1 profile image

whynot1 4 years ago

Interesting hub! Great job! Although I think obnoxious teens are annoying - I think we don't need yet another law in this country to mandate who can and cannot go trick or treating!


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I last went trick or treating when I was 13. I got a lot of apples.


L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City

I don't actively trick-or-treat any longer, but I do dress in costume to answer the door for the younger folk. I am all for senior citizens doing anything any other age group does, but IMHO get-togethers such as costume parties may be more appropriate than going door-to-door. I can just imagine the faces of neighbors when they open the door to octogenarians.


jenubouka 4 years ago

You are right about the teens on trick or treat night, I encountered this last year and was appalled by their lack of respect. They did not even bother to dress up, my optimistic side just wanted to believe they could not afford a costume, but they were old enough to pull some weeds, earn a few bucks, and get their own candy at the dollar store.

And it would be a treat for the seniors to knock on the door, reliving youth, plus they'd at least share their candy.


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 4 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

Halloween trick or treating has slowly lost it's attraction, especially in big cities, concrete jungles. Apartment buildings and Condos frown upon permitting kids to go floor to floor, door to door, collecting treats, and how much joy is there for the kids when their parents have to inspect their gatherings to insure that the kids candies etc. are safe from preditors that might do harm.

Parties are all a rage these days and far safer too.


leroy64 profile image

leroy64 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

Maybe the presence of Trick or Treating adults would discourage the idiots causing the problems. I remember a lot of parents watching closely as we kids went door to door. Save the candy for the kids though.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

I read on a forum at city-data.com about a grandmom age 53 (it was her birthday) that dressed as Cleopatra in 2010 and took her two small grandkids Trick or Treating. She had a bad experience at only one house - there, a woman yelled that she was too old and did not need candy. A neighbor called the grandmom over and gave her candy!


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I was always tall for my age and at ten years old I dressed up in a boys Football uniform. I went up and knocked on this older ladies door and when she saw me she said to me "Shame on you, you're too old to be out trick or treating." I told her that I was only ten years old but she did not believe me and slammed the door in my face.

I agree with what leroy has said. More adults out with the children would help with the hoodlums causing problems.

In my neighborhood I am finding that we get fewer and fewer children coming out at Halloween each year. I am starting to wonder if this is because the children get candy all year round and have little or no need to go outdoor to door. Just a thought.


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

In my area many senior living communities welcome trick-or-treating kids on the designated night. The sr. folks get to enjoy the costumes and the families know the treats will be safe. Also, we have the un-costumed teens who go begging door-to-door, but they usually come around later in the evening. Anyone who does not want to give them candy just turns off theior house lights as the night gets late.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Interesting stories!

Just Ask Susan - I know several 10-year-olds that are almost 6' tall. Sad to hear you were treated poorly.

Maren Morgan M-T -- That sounds like a lot of fun, too,


MikeNV profile image

MikeNV 4 years ago from Henderson, NV

I believe 13 is the appropriate age to stop. It's a little kids thing from door to door. At 13 one should be attending supervised parties. With each passing generation the activities seem less fun as we are a society consumed by our own fear of what can happen to unsupervised children. The nightly news makes us keenly aware of dangers to kids. I don't know what this says about a society where kids must be under such strict 24/7 supervision to ensure their safety. Kind of takes the fun out of it. I'm not familiar with Beggars Night... haven't heard that term before.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The cutoff age for trick or treating is a tough topic. I agree that age shouldn't limit costume design, though. I'm sure that art and architecture students could design many amazing costumes. Who hasn't been to an adult costume party at some point with lots of awesome costumes?


Nicole Winter profile image

Nicole Winter 4 years ago from Chicago, IL

We live in Chicago & *love* going Trick or Treating... I've never stayed home to answer the door, there's a twelve year difference between myself & my sister... so well past the age where I wouldn't have gone Trick or Treating I was taking my sister, which was always super-fun. I would dress up, but I wouldn't take a bag or anything, my sister always shared her candy with the whole family, obviously. Then I had my daughter, so more Trick or Treating! When I'm old enough, (after my next child is grown,) to start staying home & answering doors, I know I would love to get senior citizen Trick or Treat takers! What a hoot.

It's sad, (I mean, really says a lot about the state of our world,) that we need laws to mandate who can and cannot go Trick or Treating. I have to wonder why these roaming bands of teens are out by themselves perpetuating all this vandalism. Shameful. I hate to think I could have had a $100 fine levied against me through high school just for dressing up to take my sister Trick or Treating... I always dressed as a clown and she *loved* it. (I hate clowns.) Now I go each year as Arthur Dent.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hi Patty! Found this hub posted on my FB! I love it!

Halloween and 4th of July are mt favorite holidays. Two daughter have birthdays 4 days before each....on Halloween we have our annual costume party and contest. The kids vote on the best costume and we give out prizes, have a Piñata, cake and it's the best! I'm so sad that this year my girls said they are too old for the party:) lol. (@10 & 12?). I love costume parties!

I am noticing lots less trick or treaters here in Missouri and I live in a big subdivision. I don't care how old the ticker treater is that knocks on my door - I'd give them a handful of candy just like everyone else. I see it this way....if they went through the trouble to don a costume for my entertainment they deserve it! Voted up and everything!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

At the end of October, our bank puts up a sign on the outside doors that says "Adults in costume may not enter." There's good reason to prohibit adults in costume from entering a bank, but other than that, I'm all for costumes for all of any age!

In our neighborhood, parents often dress in costume as they chaperon their kids, but they never carry sacks for treats. This year, I'm going to make them do tricks!

I love your ideas about seniors celebrating Halloween, not to mention that photo in Princeton, and I shared this inspiring Hub on our Not So Old Broads facebook page here:

http://www.facebook.com/notsooldbroads

Up and awesome!


hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 4 years ago from Oregon, USA

I like everything about Halloween except the trick or treating. ToT is a custom that assumes the backdrop of a culture from an age bygone -- that you could pay an annual visit to all your friends and neighbors, connect, and get a little treat. But now it's become so scaled up and impersonal, the kids might as well just post a pic of themselves in costume on the internet and request donations so they can buy all the candy they like.

People don't know their neighbors any more, and ToT-ing has become increasingly risky. I'm all for Halloween parties and parades and ToTing a few people you know, but mass canvassing is a custom that is dying out, as it should.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

@HD, I see your point. But here, we have a trusted neighborhood.

After 9/11, in that year, I thought no child would show up on my doorstep for Halloween, but I had visitors in troves.

So, yes, it's neighborhood-dependent. We have a neighborhood of 750 homes (a mostly suburban place) and everybody pretty much knows everybody else. It's the way it used to be and now should be.


melbel profile image

melbel 4 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

I remember I went trick or treating in high school once and a lot of people were like, "Aren't you too old to trick or treat?" Some were downright rude about it. It's just having fun, and good, clean fun at that. I think it would be fun if more adults did things like trick or treated or had fancy dress parties.


hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 4 years ago from Oregon, USA

Fancy Dress Parties are OK by me! The wackier the better. And of course adults or anyone can trick or treat ON PEOPLE that they KNOW. I'm just paranoid about strangers. There are sickos and meth-heads.....


Karen N profile image

Karen N 4 years ago from United States

Around here most kids stop at about 13. I do agree though that they need something else to do, like maybe a party for instance.


AnimeHime2011 profile image

AnimeHime2011 4 years ago from Greensboro, North Carolina

I REALLY LOVED AND ENJOYED READING YOUR HUB.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

I appreciate all the insightful and interesting comments from readers, so thanks!

Costume parties are fun in any month, in my opinion and I love Mardi Gras masks; I just don't prefer serial-killer costumes or green rubber faces, and probably not devil horns; but otherwise, it's pretty much fun.

It's cold and rainy here today and I thought about senior citizens going out at night in this weather. But I think it would be OK if they had a driver and a van. Perhaps parties are the best bet.

Have a good time during the last few days of October this year, no matter what you do!


dagny roth profile image

dagny roth 4 years ago from Neverland

It's funny you wrote this hub because when I was out with my little ones I noticed several teenagers out and wondered the exact same thing...thanks!


Lynn 4 years ago

I do agree that Halloween is a Childs thing, but I'm 16 and I do know just by experience that most of the teens just want to go out and have a good time. They don't even do it for the candy, as we can normally just get our own instead of begging the community. I, as many other "too old for trick-or-treating" teens, love to dress up for that ONE night it's normal to be all out crazy, cute, or just adorable. It's a night where strangers can communicate without actually knowing, complimenting other costumes or just being scared crapless. If Adults and Children can do it, why not us Teens?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Good thoughts, Lynn.


tasia 3 years ago

i will go trick or treating when ever i want to.yall can't stop me thought


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Good luck, wherever you are.

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