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This Town Just Put an Age Limit on Trick-or-Treating

by Marsha Takeda-Morrison

Photograph by Twenty20

“Last night, a man with a beard came to our door and he was carrying a big hammer. He yelled, ‘Yo, trick-or-treat!’”

It was the day after Halloween, and my fellow second-graders and I were trading stories when my friend shared this menacing encounter.

“Oh my god. What did you do?” we shrieked.

“My mom gave him some candy.”

Something tells me this will never happen in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. The Canadian town has banned anyone over the age of 16 from trick-or-treating and will now enforce a curfew of 8 p.m. on Halloween night. Offenders will get a $200 fine in their candy bucket if they’re caught knocking on doors asking for treats, or wearing a “facial disguise” after curfew.

Not everyone is in favor of the law—which is actually a revision of a law passed in 2005 that was never enforced—saying it could lead to unnecessary harassment of children by authorities. "Some kids are tall," says Kim Chamberlain, deputy mayor of the New Brunswick city of Bathurst. "My cousin's son is 5'4" and 15 years old. What are we going to do, go up to him and ask him, 'How old are you?' and 'Show me your ID'? That doesn't make sense.”

Others argue that the new law helps ease the minds of older residents worried about teen disobedience on Halloween. According to a 2016 census around 49 percent of Bathurst’s population is 55 years old or older. It’s unclear how stringently the law will be enforced, since a city spokesperson adds that no one has been fined in the 12 years since the original law was passed.

The reaction from residents and the internet is mixed, with some saying that the law protects younger children on the already hectic holiday night. But others say it ruins older kids’ opportunity for an evening of innocent fun and contributes to our tendency to make kids grow up too fast.

I can’t help but think it sounds like just another war on teenagers. The media is hell-bent on portraying adolescents as drugged out, trouble-causing bands of miscreants who only stop to take a sloppy swig of their Mountain Dew before they shoplift convenience stores or terrorize their neighbors. Most of the criticism I’ve heard comes from parents of young children, who seem to stop their rants once their own kids enter their teen years.

I’m with the voices that say please let our kids be kids for as long as they can. As one tweet pointed out, it’s a difficult age and a night spent with their friends gathering up boxes of Nerds and Snickers bars is better than sitting in a basement secretly knocking back cans of Budweiser.

Thankfully, there’s no over-16 rule in our city, so teens in our neighborhood are welcome to participate in Halloween with their friends and I’ll continue to gladly give out candy to anyone who knocks on my door.

Yes, that even means you, guy with the facial hair carrying the hammer.

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