Every year, people look forward to the fun that Halloween has installed: candy, costumes, and-- if you're over the age 14-- a hair-raising $250 fine if you live in Chesapeake, Virginia.
The City of Chesapeake's code of ordinances states that anyone over the age of 14 who engages in trick or treating is guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $250. In addition, anyone who trick or treats after 8 p.m. is also guilty of the same charge.
Despite how many feel that is a pretty cruel trick, Chesapeake's efforts to ban Halloween fun on young teens is not something new. In 1970, the city's original ordinance stated that kids over 12 years old who were trick or treating could face jail time. However, backlash regarding the existing law prompted officials to revisit it; and only recently in March 2019, this ordinance was loosened and now subjects 14-year-olds who trick-or-treat to a $250 fine.
Nonetheless, in the past 49 years, since the original ordinance was put in place, Chesapeake has not arrested, fined, or jailed a single person for trick or treating. According to Chesapeake spokesperson Heath Covey, "Anyone over 14 who trick or treats in Chesapeake will not receive anything but candy," as long as they're not causing trouble. Covey further demonstrated that the law's purpose is to give police to the ability to take action if someone were to do "something malicious", such as smashing pumpkins on the streets, and not "card people" to confirm their ages on Halloween night.
"We want every person in Chesapeake to have a fun and safe Halloween. This ordinance will not prevent them from doing that" Covey told CNN. For now, the City of Chesapeake is working on tracking down posts and stories that "incorrectly" explain the ordinance.
When asked about Virginia's ordinance regarding trick-or-treaters, four Maspeth High School students--ranging from Freshman to Senior year--all agreed that the ordinance is unfair and restricts adolescents from enjoying Halloween and making memories. One senior stated "It's unfair because some kids still enjoy trick-or-treating. The ordinance is extreme because it is unethical to fine young teens for trick-or-treating, especially if they're not doing anything wrong". She went on to note that her little sister, who is 15, went trick-or-treating with her friends this Halloween and all they did was try and enjoy their night.
The age limit on trick-or-treaters appear to be very subjective. However, it seems that the students of Maspeth High School seem to agree that as long as no one is being harmful, they should be allowed to partake in the Halloween festivities.