In My Day

Rants from a 30 Something Curmudgeon

Trick or Treating

with one comment

In my day, Trick or Treating was something cherished, something sacred.  Children and homes were not forced to limit their Halloween adventure to two measly hours.  Seriously, only two hours once every year for children to Halloween isn’t enough.  It’s not enough time for a child to wear the costume that they have been waiting weeks to show off.  It’s not enough time to fill a large bag of candy and treats, a small bucket, maybe.  It’s not worth the time that homeowners spent, setting up spooky displays, to give the Trick or Treaters a sense of wonderment.  It’s just not enough for Halloween.

Sometime during the past decades, local politician and law enforcement saw an easy punching bag with Trick or Treating.  There was a lot of bad reasoning and worse decision-making, based on half-truths, scare mongering, and a media desperate for ratings.  So, let’s look at some of the potential reasoning behind the restrictive hours.


During the 1980’s, news media was rampant with stories of tampered candy.  Needles, razor blades, poison, in millions of pieces of candy, if one was to believe the alarmist media, whose motto was often, “If it bleeds, it leads.”  The truth regarding candy scares was far, far less than what many people thought. So, if the chances of getting poisoned candy is so low, almost non-existent given the number of pieces of candy passed out each year, this obviously can’t be a good reason to shorten the hours.  If people are still worried, common candy checking practices should eliminate any fears, not ridiculous hours that suck the joy out of the holiday.

2.  Vandalism

Perhaps the reason for the shortened hours is because of the rolls of TP that fly through the air, and other such mayhem on personal property.  But shortening the hours doesn’t really make sense.  First off, much of these acts happen around Halloween, and not necessarily on Halloween.  Granted, some does.  But not when the streets are filled with children and parents enjoying the tradition of fun and community.  Shortening the hours only gives the miscreants more time to do their various acts of mischief.

3. Traffic Dangers

This is the only reason that makes any kind of sense, but not much.  Children are already out while it’s dark and safety needs to be practiced by them, their parents, and motorists.  Reflective costumes, not dark ones should be encouraged.  Small children should NEVER go out alone.  Stick in groups.  But these are things that families already do.  The effort needs to be placed on awareness and education, not on restricting a parent’s right to allow their kid to form amazing Halloween memories.

It’s not much to ask that we give our children the same opportunities we had to have the kind of fun that a good night of trick or treating can bring.  It’s not much to ask for an extra hour.  It should be even less to ask that we as parents, homeowners, citizens and human beings be allowed to choose how celebrate the holiday, and a tradition America has made uniquely its own.  It doesn’t make sense that the local government can tell me, as a homeowner, how long I can leave my porch light on.  It doesn’t make sense for those people to tell me that I can’t take my family around the neighborhood at 8:30.  It makes even less sense that the government can tell me not to warmly welcome my festive neighbors and fill their kid’s pumpkin shaped buckets with treats.  There’s a point where we have to say, this is our community, we can do Trick or Treating safely without city mandated hours.  No one is suggesting that kids stay out until Midnight, going to every house to beg for candy.

The great thing about Trick or Treating is that is already has some great rules built-in.  If a porch light is off, don’t go up to the door.  Say thanks after the candy is given.  Compliment kids on their costumes.  Let’s face it, most of the year we close ourselves off to only a small number of friends and family, losing a sense of community.  Halloween Trick and Treating reminds us that we’re all neighbors, and we need to enjoy our community.

Limiting Trick or Treating hours maybe and easy target in local politics.  To some, it may seem like common sense.  To many of us, it’s absolutely ridiculous to only allow 2 measly hours of Trick or Treating fun because of irrationality and fear.  That’s why this year, I’ll be leaving my porch light on that extra hour.  If some Trick or Treaters show up, who am I to deny them a few bits of candy?  And who is anyone to tell me when to turn that light off or who I can turn away.  If you feel the same, leave your light on for one hour.  Is it civil disobedience?  I doubt it.  It’s making our community what it should be, and Halloween what it is.

Trunk and Treat and Pseudo Trick or Treating Practices.

Thanks to an awesome commenter on the Leave Your Porch Light ON Facebook page for pointing out this practice.  In all the irrational fear of Halloween, people and organizations have started to create events that try to create a trick or treating atmosphere, without the adventure and community involvement.  As discussed earlier.  These events really do not contribute to expanding community beyond our pre-established groups.  Please don’t get me wrong, these events are fine but not suitable replacements for Trick or Treating.   What’s the point of decorating your home or apartment if nobody is going to ring the bell on Halloween?

If you, like millions of other people, have fond memories of dressing up, exploring your neighborhood, meeting great neighbors, sharing in a sense of community, and getting a ton of candy, then you already know what this experience means and what it can mean to the children of today.  Get your neighbors, friends, and family involved in preserving Trick or Treating. And remember to Leave Your Porch Light On.


Written by Jess Boldt

October 11, 2010 at 4:13 am

Posted in Tradition

Tagged with ,

One Response

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  1. I love to trick-or-treat, but you never know what kind of weather michigan will have…

    Wear a warm costume!

    Joe Nemeth

    October 11, 2010 at 8:03 pm

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