Nikki Dotson Merritt: Trick-or-treaters of all ages should be welcomed

October 11, 2018

At the strike of October, I began preparing for my favorite holiday: Halloween. I enjoy all things spooky and scary from horror movies to visiting haunted houses and even watching the little kids participate in trick-or-treating.

This year, we moved into a neighborhood that is known for its candy-loving crowd, and I am so excited to hand out treats for the first time.

However, as Oct. 31 approaches, a long debated question arises: How old is too old to go trick-or-treating?

According to Time magazine, the answers vary.

One town in Canada has drawn a hard line with a bylaw announced in September that bans anyone older than 16 from trick-or-treating and hits any rule-breakers with a $200 fine.

City and town codes also allow for cut-off ages on trick-or-treating. Recently, a post circulated on social media that stated towns in Virginia only allowed those 12 years of age and younger to trick-or-treat.

According to the Chesapeake, Virginia, city code, if any person over the age of 12 years engages in the activity commonly known as trick-or-treating or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of no less than $25 nor more than $100 or by confinement in jail for no more than six months or both.

The code also states partaking in the event after 8 p.m. will result in similar charges.

After some research, I was not able to find any such ordinances or laws for West Virginia or specifically Wayne County. However, to parenting and etiquette experts, the rules are not always so clear.

Time states there is no widely accepted cut-off age for older children who want to wear costumes and demand candy on Halloween, experts say. Most teenagers stop dressing up and trick-or-treating somewhere between the ages of 12 and 16 - but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad manners for them to go door to door, as long as they are polite while out on the streets.

Going back to the social media post that recently gained attention, many on my accounts voiced outrage at the idea of turning a child away.

As for myself, I won’t be turning anyone of any age away unless I encounter a serious problem - which I do not foresee.

Let’s let kids be kids as long as we can, and if that means dressing up and begging for candy - so be it.

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