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