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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

[EDITORIAL] “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 Contributor
Austin Sanchez
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.