With the help of a dinosaur, Palm Bay police give residents some tips and tricks to stay safe during the holiday. Video courtesy of the Palm Bay Police Department.
When I was 23 I did a little experiment.
I went trick or treating.
I dressed up as an old lady, alongside my sister and a friend, and we went house to house with my niece. For one, we wanted to take her anyway, so why not join in on the fun?
But I also wanted to see if anyone noticed – or cared.
Fortunately for me, I’m basically the height of a Smurf, so no one paid much attention to me. At one point, someone thought I was actually an old lady – #rude – but hey, that just meant my costume was that good, right? At least that’s what I told myself. My older sister – who was 32 at the time – didn’t run into any issues either, although she had the guise of a toddler in hand to justify her visits.
We successfully went through my parent’s North Brevard neighborhood and collected our goodies to bring back and share. We laughed and felt silly, and for those few hours we felt like we were kids again. We even burned off some calories to offset the smorgasbord of chocolate. It was great. My sister has since passed away, and it remains one of my favorite memories.
We didn’t cause any trouble, we had a great time and my parents handed out just as much or more candy as we had collected. What was the big deal?
But ask social media an appropriate age for trick or treating and you’ll get a flurry of results. Some who argue there is no age limit, others who are staunch on a strict cut-off.
All through high school, I hosted Halloween parties and collected groups of friends to go house to house. We had a blast.
Meanwhile, other high school cliques were out throwing toilet paper through trees, vandalizing or getting stupid drunk when their parents weren’t watching (or were in some cases).
So what’s worse: Trick or treating or breaking the law?
In Canada, there is actually a city that made trick or treating over the age of 16 illegal. Bathurst, New Brunswick passed a controversial Halloween bylaw earlier this month that forbids teens (or anyone) over the age of 16 from trick or treating. Children under that age are permitted to trick or treat until 8 p.m., but no later.
The Canadian Press reports: “Those caught with a ‘facial disguise’ in public after curfew – like a zombie mask or witch’s veil – or anyone over 16 found roaming the streets for treats can be fined up to $200.”
Annnnd now we see in action the biggest difference between the United States and Canada. Wouldn’t that be unconstitutional in our society? Telling people what they can wear in public?
I took a couple of polls on social media to gauge a very-unscientific consensus. I’m no Florida Tech statistician, but I wanted to see what people thought.
I was surprised to see an overwhelming amount of favor toward the notion that there is no age cut-off. A few people argued 16 was the limit, but many parlayed with the idea that “you’re never too old to have fun.” On my Twitter poll, I wasn’t able to give the option “never” for a cut-off age, but more than 50 percent of votes went toward the “over 18’ option.
More than 100 people on my Facebook poll voted in favor of “never” for a cut-off age. The main stipulation expressed was that you be in costume. No cutting corners, regardless of age.
“I’d rather see an 18 year old trick or treating than out stealing or doing drugs,” wrote April Moore on my poll.
Despite the online sentiments, some had stories of rejection from their childhood that still resonated years later.
“I went with my brother one year and I will never forget this lady she told me I was too old to go trick or treating. I think I was 15. I was mostly going with my little brother, but wow she hurt my feelings back then,” wrote Jennifer Fuertes.
I asked around the FLORIDA TODAY office as well, and got mixed results. One of our more “old school” reporters said he didn’t think teens should be out trick or treating, but he’d never deny them or make a comment. Another reporter said he didn’t see an issue as long as someone is in costume.
Some argued that as long as you had a kid with you, why not?
Titusville resident Jacqueline Houser said a house she visited last year kept parents in a mind, a cool notion for those of us taking the littles out tonight.
“A house I went to last year was giving out water, soda, and beer to parents and candy to the kids, said Houser. “It was my favorite house.”
So again I ask: Is there a cut-off? If so, then what age? And, more so, why?
How I view it is that in today’s society, we are so obsessed with technology that any chance to get kids – or adults – to look up from their smartphones is an opportunity for better socialization. Not only are trick or treaters out engaging with other real life humans, but they’re out getting exercise. They’re getting a digital cleanse – albeit only for an hour or two, but that’s something.
Perhaps in a world where our children are lacking face-to-face connections, the question should be less “is it OK” and more “how can we turn this into an opportunity for something positive?”
Contact Reporter Jessica Saggio at 321-242-3664, JSaggio@FloridaToday.com or follow @JessicaJSaggio on Twitter.
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