The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

“Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something sweet to eat”

How old is too old for trick-or-treating?
Do people actually age out of trick-or-treating? (Photo illustration created using image courtesy of Polina Tankilevitch via Pexels)

Houses decorated, kids in costumes, candy being given out at every house. Family and friends gather together to run around collecting as much candy as they can before the night ends. Such describes October’s most important (arguably) holiday, Halloween.

Kids usually love Halloween: a night full of costumes, characters, and who can forget about the candy? Although trick or treating is mainly done by kids, there are occasionally teens and even adults who make the rounds. In fact, some people – mainly those who are over a certain age – feel that there should be an age limit to trick-or-treating. Students and staff at West Chicago Community High School have mixed views as to how old is too old for trick or treating.

“I feel like once you have kids, you can’t go alone because you’re going to be looking like a [creep] if you go out,” senior Diego Macias said. 

Adults seem inclined to agree, and would move the age limit up well before the typical child-bearing years.

“Anything beyond freshman of high school because it’s creepy. You look like an adult. You wouldn’t want me trick or treating at your door, you’d probably call the cops,” Chad Coleman, a special education teacher at West Chicago Community High School said. 

Perhaps that is a fair assessment: older teens and young adults do see the occasional raised eyebrow when they go door-to-door on Halloween.

“If you are one of those college students that is still walking around neighborhoods on the night of Halloween looking for candy, your kind is few and far between, and you are also guaranteed to have stares and judgment coming your way,” Katie McMahon of The Los Angeles Loyalan wrote in her op-ed last year.

Old-fashioned trick-or-treating may be just what today’s teenager needs – a flashback to childhood, even when they are dressed as an adult. (Photo by Austin Sanchez)

But why must people age out of a holiday? No one ages out of giving Valentine’s Day cards to their loved ones in February, or playing Secret Santa at Christmas. The stigma associated with dressing-up and trick-or-treating on Halloween is one we create ourselves. Even at West Chicago Community High School, the number of students and staff who participated in the Student Council-sponsored spirit week were far and few between, relatively speaking (there are more than 2,100 students at the school, and most of us can probably count on one hand how many students in each of our classes participated).

In fact, in principle, we can probably all agree: no one is ever too old to be trick or treating. People of all ages should be allowed to have fun and enjoy themselves on this one day a year. That said, there are certain expectations for the “older” crowd: a costume is a most (and an appropriate one at that); be mature, and avoid poor decisions or disrespect to other people or property; and of course, allow the little ones to get their candy first (do not be a glutton). 

While trick-or-treating for teens or adults should be as simple as that, it is not thanks to what doctors refer to as “age norms”. Age norms are “widely-shared judgments” about the behaviors, roles, and expectations that are considered “standard or typical” at a given age. These norms might apply to the “right” age to move out of one’s parents’ house, or the “right” age to get married. And yes, they also apply to the “right” age for trick-or-treating.

Some states have enacted laws regarding trick-or-treating age limits. For instance, in Charleston, South Carolina, age 16 is the cutoff, and masks are not allowed in public places. The age limit is even lower in Chesapeake, Virginia: 14. Up until 2019, anyone who broke that age requirement was subject to a $100 fine and up to six months of prison time. Even as close as Belleville, Illinois, there is a law that no child over the age of 16 may trick-or-treat.

But locally, no such laws exist. Perhaps, then, Halloween is an opportunity – just for one day – to break those societal norms, and remember what it is like to be childlike. As teens, we should not be afraid of what other people will think of us when we are assuming an alter-ego for a few hours. Most likely, we will never see those people again – our only interaction is a quick exchange at the door. So, before we become entrenched in college and our adult lives, let’s take one last moment to enjoy the trick-or-treating experience. But please, no one needs to smell our feet first!

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About the Contributors
Nancy Sanchez, Senior Reporter
Nancy is a senior at West Chicago taking Journalism for the second time. She speaks English, Spanish, and French, but decided to learn Mandarin to communicate better. She plays an "unremarkable" number of instruments in her free time, including the drums, violin, viola, trombone, French horn, clarinet, harp, ukelele, guitar, and piano. Nancy is also known for her beautiful voice, and is a member of the Honors Acapella Choir, as well as a frequent fixture in theatrical productions.
Brianna Romero, Reporter
Brianna is currently a sophomore, and is passionate about reading and writing. She aspires to be an English teacher or journalist after she graduates. Brianna currently has a dog, and describes herself as more of a dog person despite previously having 20 cats. Yes, 20! She is very environmentally-conscious and would like to join Club Green and WeGo Global this school year. 
Devin Larimer, Reporter
Senior Devin Larimer is interested in pursuing a career as a pilot. If that career path does not work out, then his plan B involves majoring in journalism in college. Devin is currently in the chess club, and enjoys writing, which is why he was interested in working for the Wildcat Chronicle: he wants to improve his writing skills for school. When Devin is home, he enjoys spending time with his two cats, Hunter and Allie. Most often, though, he is busy working at Jewel Osco, and occasionally listening to his favorite artists: Half Alive and Young the Giant.
Daniela Perez, Reporter
Senior Daniela Perez is a first-year reporter with the Chronicle. She enjoys walking outside with her dog, Santi, and spending most of her time with her friends. Daniela’s sister influences her the most because she is smart and motivates her to do better.
Qssam Alwan, Reporter
Qssam Alwan is a senior, and this is his first year in the journalism program. Qssam enjoys going out with friends, working out at the gym, and watching TV shows with his three older brothers. After high school, Qssam is looking forward to attending college or university to major in pharmacy or electrical work.
Miley Pegg, Social Media Manager
Sophomore Miley Pegg plays guitar and is on the cheer team, but her inspiration for taking Journalism stems from the show “Gilmore Girls”, one of her favorite shows. When she is not busy with school and extracurriculars, she enjoys spending time with her two cats, Squishy and Figgy, both of whom are named after Disney characters, but neither of whom get along. Although a far cry from Stars Hollow, if Miley could live anywhere in the world, she would live in Colorado. 
Senior Fernando Calvillo-Morales has put a lot of his time into clubs and sports including, Student Council (where he is co-President), Rock Climbing Club, the Varsity tennis team, Robotics Team, yearbook, and Compass. Fernando is clearly a leader within the West Chicago community. He has always been very dedicated, and applied himself to being the best he can be. A significant part of Fernando is his humor: most would say he is quite a jokester. He can never fail to make someone laugh and instantly improve their day. Loyalty is also an especially important quality to Fernando, and he is a firm believer in helping others find success. When Fernando is not found drinking chia water, he is listening to NF. His favorite part about NF is his ability to sing and go in-depth about the highs and lows of life, and how to overcome obstacles. 
Olivia Heredia, Reporter
Olivia Heredia is a senior in high school. This is her first year and last year at West Chicago. She is excited for new possibilities and what this school has to bring. Olivia loves listening to music, playing the sims and spending time with her family. She also loves her dog, who brings joy and happiness into her life.
Austin Sanchez, Reporter
Austin is a WEGO senior and a unique person who seriously likes the color red. When Austin isn't playing video games and/or listening to music, his interests include music, horticultural science, and agricultural design. He would like to pursue his dreams by going into trade school to learn about agriculture design and later, attend college to study horticulture. In 10 years, Austin sees himself living in a house with his own family. 
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  • Mr. AielloNov 8, 2023 at 10:54 am

    Interesting. Although I was aware of the “social rules” of trick-or-treating, I had no idea there were any laws in play. Personally, I trick-or-treated until my Junior year of high school, and I think if it’s in your own neighborhood, you’d be more likely to be looked upon favorably, since your neighbors know you.

    Great reporting.