The Ghosts of Halloween Past: Teenage Trick-or-Treaters Unmasked

By Tamara Jones
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Josh Abt does not care if you think he is too big, too old, too brazen to be doing this anymore. At 17, he is old enough to appreciate that there are things in life more important than a stranger's disdain.

Almond Joys, for example.

Especially free ones.

Which is why the Vienna teen plans to don a purple Mad Hatter costume tonight and go trick-or-treating with a handful of friends who may or may not bother to dress up before jostling for position on front porches with kids half their age.

"When I'm mature, I'll stop going," Josh reckons.

"He'll be going till he's 80," deadpans his friend Stacey Schwarz, a 16-year-old sophomore who hasn't decided yet whether to join her James Madison High School classmates on the candy quest. Depends how bored she gets.

Josh ticks off the reasons to go: "We want to have a good time, we're low on funds. . . ."

"Alternatively, you could say we're shameless," offers Mike Boren, 16, who shrugs off the annoyed responses when adults see him holding out his treat bag.

"People are like, 'Aren't you too old? Why aren't you in costume?' Mostly they just kind of grumble but give you the candy anyway."

Call them greedy, call them intimidating, call them the unwelcome elephants in the Snickers factory, but the teenagers who inevitably appear on Halloween doorsteps are grasping for more than a fistful of sweets.

"When you're our age, it's like it's cool again to go," explains Anna Karnaze, a 17-year-old junior from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, who went as a toilet-paper mummy last Halloween and plans to trick-or-treat as a pirate tonight.

"I'm probably not going to be able to do this stuff anymore in college," she laments.

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