Trick or treaters start out as adorable. Then cute. Then fun. Then interesting. Then all of the sudden at some indiscernible moment, they become inappropriate.
There’s no definitive consensus around what age trick-or-treating should end. It’s a bit like the famous Supreme Court ruling on obscenity: You know it when a knock on the door comes too late in the evening and from a child roughly the height of you.
That might be age 12 or 15 or 17 depending on the child’s maturity level and development - or community standard. What flies on Halloween night in Omaha might not in Miami, or vice versa.
I recall my own last outing as an eighth grader who, as the night unfolded, felt increasingly ashamed of begging for candy from neighbors.
At that age, though, I was ashamed of just about everything. I was also not a creative sort, so dreaded coming up with a costume.
Other kids enjoy Halloween much later.
The Post’s Marc Fisher explained his teenager daughters’ perspective in 2008. “My 17-year-old argues that she’s still a kid and still loves Halloween and should be allowed to make the neighborhood rounds as long as she’s willing to dress up and get on out there. Some of her friends think she needs to grow out of it; others agree with her; still others just like candy.”
That’s too old — a good five years too old — for some. Belleville, Ill.,a suburb of St. Louis, has become near-famous for banning high schoolers from trick-or-treating.
Other towns have also imposed age limits, including Boonsboro in Washington County, Md. The town Web site informs its 3,336 residents that “Trick-or-Treat will be held on Wednesday, October 31, 2012 from 6PM to 8PM for children 12 years of age and younger. We ask that you please accompany your child while they walk around town.”
Seems a bit draconian. And paternalistic.
That’s the point, according to Belleville mayor. “When I was a kid my father said to me, You’re too damn big to be going trick-or-treating. You’re done. When that doesn’t happen, then that’s reason for the city governments to intervene,” Mayor Mark Eckert told the Associated Press.
What is your family age limit? Should it be up to the child or the parent?