Trick-or-Treat-yo’self! Why it’s okay to trick-or-treat as an adult
By Julia Bonavita
Photography Editor / Contributing Writer
I trick-or-treated up until my senior year of high school.
There, I said it.
I relished in the feeling of donning my annual costume, hopping into the car with friends, and racing off to the best neighborhood for candy hunting. It was the one night of the year when we could forget about our college applications, due dates, minimum wage jobs, and just go back to being a kid.
My mom has always told me that if “it doesn’t hurt anyone and brings you comfort, then do it”. Trick-or-Treating, for a lot of teenagers and young adults, allows them to experience the safety of being a kid again, while forage for free candy and spending time with friends.
However, for some parents and lawmakers around the country, the thought of opening the door to costumed high schoolers and college students is enough to give them a scare.
In Chesapeake, Virginia, anyone trick-or-treating over the age of 14 is guilty of a Class Four misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $250, according to the city’s code of ordinances. The law was enacted in 1970, and stated that anyone over 12 years old was subject to arrest and could face potential jail time.
The ordinance was revised in March 2019, but is only in place to give law enforcement the ability to protect against anyone doing “something malicious” – no one has been arrested since implementation.
Still, there is a growing number of candy-givers who will shut the door on big kids in costumes, citing the need for teens to “grow up”. Some cite safety concerns, worried that teenagers in masks may pose as a threat, while others just think it’s time for them to hang up the costume and retire to handing out candy with the other adults.
However, most young adults won’t roll over that easily. Halloween harbors a huge potential for a party scene – and fun-loving teens often take full advantage. Instead of bumbling around in the latest costumes looking for treats, the newly ousted may resort to getting involved in real-life mischief. According to the National Highway Traffic Association (NHTSA), there were 168 deaths on Halloween between 2012-2016. The cause? Drunk driving.
I’m not going to be the one to cry scrooge on parties, but do we really want a bunch of high school kids partaking in underage drinking, smoking, and other bad habits just because they were told to “grow up”? If they want to mull around with their friends in search of candy, who are we to stand in their way?
In my experience as an avid high school trick-or-treater, homeowners always greeted us with a smile, and made sure our handfuls of candy were just as big as the little kids’. They praised us for honoring Halloween tradition, and always seemed excited when we came to their front door. Older kids are held to a different standard, and my particular posse never even thought of taking more candy than allowed, running over little kids to get to the next house, or being rude to those nice enough to partake in the evening festivities. We were just happy to be in costume, and with friends.
In 2019, teenagers and young adults are subject to an immense number of stressors, many of which were never prevalent for earlier generations, and may seek solace in the comfort of routine.
I implore those who cry foul on older kids partaking in trick-or-treating – or other holiday traditions like Easter egg hunting, Secret Santa, or Valentine’s Day card making – to stop and think if it directly impacts your experience. If the answer is no, then the only thing to be worried about is making sure you get to the house with the full-sized candy bars first.