How old is too old to trick or treat? One Canadian town sets new rules for Halloween

Should there be an age limit for trick or treaters? (Getty Images)

For some, it’s the most wonderful time of the year: cooler weather, pumpkin spice everything and re-runs of 1970s horror movies on TV. Whether it’s Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or the “Monster Mash,” most would be lying if they said they didn’t hit the dance floor during a Halloween-themed party. In fact, some of the best childhood memories stem from trick or treating or rushing home to take inventory of hard-earned sweets.

As parents, you’ve most likely found yourself dawning a funny costume to accompany your children on their adventure. It’s hard to imagine a childhood without Halloween, regardless of whether you’re a fan of Jason Voorhees or not.

But city councillors in one Canadian town want to make a major change to how the night of Oct. 31 unfolds. Recently a compromise was reached by councillors and residents in Bathurst, New Brunswick. By setting a curfew and an age limit on those who celebrate Halloween, councillors believe the town will experience less tricks and more treats.

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The controversial bylaw forbids anyone over the age of 16 to trick or treat, with all taking part expected to be home by the 8 p.m. curfew. Those who choose to ignore the bylaw can be fined up to $200.

Bathurst Deputy Mayor Kim Chamberlain called the bylaw “silly,” admitting it’s an overreach for city councillors to determine Halloween rules.

“I wanted to demolish it altogether but I got outvoted,” Chamberlain told the Canadian Press. “At least we made some changes to accommodate parents who are working later so they at least have time to feed their children and dress them up before they go trick or treating.”

Originally the bylaw restricted teens over the age of 14 from participating with a trick or treating cut-off of 7 p.m. While this bylaw was approved in 2005, it was never enforced.

Stemming from reports of “trouble makers” and previous Halloween mischief, the bylaw was borne of senior residents’ concerns surrounding Halloween violence. According to the 2016 census, 49 per cent of Bathurst’s population is over 55 years old.

Reactions to the bylaw have been mixed across social media.

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“I’d rather my 16 year old go out trick or treating than out drinking. This is an awkward age. 16 year olds should have fun too,” posted one Twitter user.

“Please, just let kids be kids as long as they can! Some kids think they’re too cool for it. I’m glad my 13 year old still acts like a kid,” added another.

The Bathurst city bylaw is expected to pass its third reading in early October, just in time to extinguish any Halloween plans Bathurst residents may have in their calendars. However, despite the bylaw being in effect, Chamberlain says it will be followed loosely.

“If I have a trick or treater knock on my door at 8:30 p.m., I’m not going to say no.”

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