Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.
Changing Social Customs
Other than a fun party and neighborhood costume parade from school around the block each of three years in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades, I didn't have Halloween activities as a child. The holiday was just not very popular.
Our city also held Penny Night earlier in the week, in which kids want door to door in costume to collect pennies and nickels for UNICEF.
As an adult, I put on a costume and took my class of Sunday School children out for Trick or Treat around one safe block of neighbors. It was kind of fun.
Today, cities have Truck or Treat and community parties at recreation centers, malls, and even grocery stores.
At the ripe old age of 16, teenagers in Bathurst, New Brunswick, are banned from trick-or-treating, and other trick-or-treaters must wrap up their candy grabbing by 8 p.m., according to a proposed law.
— AJC.com; October 31, 2017
Kids dressed as little pumpkins are always fun to watch. Adults sometimes dress as a bunch of grapes in a leotard, tights, and inflated green balloons. Many positive and fun images can be created for costume holidays and parties throughout the year.
No age limit can be placed on having a creative good time like this with such costumes; so I'd like to see a college art class design some interesting gear and go Trick or Treating -- I wonder if Lady Gaga goes out on Halloween for candy with Haus of Gaga? I think a lot of people would like her to show up at their door!
Other statistics show societal expectations for a trick-or-treating age limit. FiveThirtyEight and Survey Monkey found that more than half of people who celebrate Halloween think kids should stop going door-to-door at some point between ages 12 and 15.
— NewsWeek; September 24, 2017.
How about an architectural class building person-size futuristic homes as costumes and Trick or Treating? That would be fun to see and I HAVE seen someone dress as the Empire State Building and as the Eiffel Tower.
All this brings Trick or Treating past the teen years and into the 20s. With older young adults participating, the Trick or Treat route might turn into more of a Doo Dah Parade and that might be very much fun! - More like Mardi Gras than Halloween.
Until that time, some of the communities of my city hold community parties and rec centers and party houses instead of having Trick or Treat and this is fine for teens and college-aged adults, too. Sometimes, parents dress up and go with their children.
Candy and apple bobbing does not move me, though. I'd rather have a pie than candy, so if the householders were giving out pies on Halloween, I'd be excited!
Three quarters of Americans say that by age 17, kids are too old to take part in this time-honored tradition — costume or no costume.
— Jeanne Sager at TheWeek.com; October 24, 2017
Seniors In Costume
How About Seniors?
Are Senior Citizens too old to go out Trick or Treating? I've never seen any do so, but I'd like to see some healthy older people go out on the circuit with chaperones, if needed for protection, and find out what kind of reception they'd get. They'd need to have innovative costumes as well and I bet they'd have a lot of good ideas. After all, they may have decades of memories they can still access.
There must be little worse than spending a holiday alone at home or in a retirement center with little of the way of entertainment, celebration, or companionship - and thinking about departed friends. Some upscale retirement complexes offer catered parties, but these facilities are usually too expensive for an average Senior to live in them.
Perhaps if a group of Seniors wished to go Trick or Treating, a younger companion or two could drive drive along with them, parking at the curb if the Seniors tired and needed to place to sit for a few minutes. I wonder how many would be invited into house parties that were going on along the route? One cannot be certain.
Trick or Treat Problems
When I was a kid, the one group of non-costumed, smoking teen boys going door to door on Beggars Night created problems with lack of manners, stealing candy from kids, and pushing small children out of the way. Vandalism ala broken windows, and egg and dent damaged autos occurred as well. Such destruction can put a permanent end to Halloween Trick or Treat.
In some communities (like Belleville, Illinois and Meridian, Mississippi and others), ABC News reported mandated age limits and the fact that certain mayors levied $100 fines for people over age 12 if they were caught Trick or Treating.
Newport News, Virginia police warn teens once to get off the Trick or Treat routes, then call parents or take the teens in.
Some reports received by ABC in 2010 mentioned that groups of teens Trick or Treating scared single moms and Senior Citizens. (Please see abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory?id=11949660).
Another problem with Trick or Treat Night is that in larger cities, small groups of teens in the wealthy districts organize. They take garbage bags to load up with Trick or Treat rewards in the other neighborhoods and insist on extra candy. They continue to knock on doors after the cut-off times as well. This has brought the activity to an end for everyone in some neighborhoods.
If teens can't Trick or Treat legally, then Senior Citizens are too old to do so as well. If safety could be ensured, however, I think Senior Citizens dressed as classic literary figures and superheros would have a good time -- I'd like it if Edgar Allan Poe knocked on the door and recited The Raven.
So, I say let's have Doo Dah Parades for Trick or Treat and a special Senior Citizens Night.
Until Then...Cårven Der Pümpkîn, Old Guys in the Balcony
Doo Dah, Doo Dah...
- Gajanan, M. How Old is Too Old to Trick-or-Treat on Halloween? Time; 2017.
- Kelley, R.E. The Book of Hallowe'en (1919)
- Trex, E. Are Teenage Trick-or-Treaters Breaking the Law? Mental Floss; 2011. mentalfloss.com/article/29051/are-teenage-trick-or-treaters-breaking-law Retrieved October 9, 2018.
© 2011 Patty Inglish MS
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 15, 2012:
Good luck, wherever you are.
tasia on October 15, 2012:
i will go trick or treating when ever i want to.yall can't stop me thought
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on August 25, 2012:
Good thoughts, Lynn.
Lynn on August 24, 2012:
I do agree that Halloween is a Childs thing, but I'm 16 and I do know just by experience that most of the teens just want to go out and have a good time. They don't even do it for the candy, as we can normally just get our own instead of begging the community. I, as many other "too old for trick-or-treating" teens, love to dress up for that ONE night it's normal to be all out crazy, cute, or just adorable. It's a night where strangers can communicate without actually knowing, complimenting other costumes or just being scared crapless. If Adults and Children can do it, why not us Teens?
dagny roth from Neverland on November 02, 2011:
It's funny you wrote this hub because when I was out with my little ones I noticed several teenagers out and wondered the exact same thing...thanks!
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 27, 2011:
I appreciate all the insightful and interesting comments from readers, so thanks!
Costume parties are fun in any month, in my opinion and I love Mardi Gras masks; I just don't prefer serial-killer costumes or green rubber faces, and probably not devil horns; but otherwise, it's pretty much fun.
It's cold and rainy here today and I thought about senior citizens going out at night in this weather. But I think it would be OK if they had a driver and a van. Perhaps parties are the best bet.
Have a good time during the last few days of October this year, no matter what you do!
AnimeHime2011 from Greensboro, North Carolina on October 26, 2011:
I REALLY LOVED AND ENJOYED READING YOUR HUB.
Karen N from United States on October 23, 2011:
Around here most kids stop at about 13. I do agree though that they need something else to do, like maybe a party for instance.
hot dorkage from Oregon, USA on October 21, 2011:
Fancy Dress Parties are OK by me! The wackier the better. And of course adults or anyone can trick or treat ON PEOPLE that they KNOW. I'm just paranoid about strangers. There are sickos and meth-heads.....
Melanie Palen from Midwest, USA on October 20, 2011:
I remember I went trick or treating in high school once and a lot of people were like, "Aren't you too old to trick or treat?" Some were downright rude about it. It's just having fun, and good, clean fun at that. I think it would be fun if more adults did things like trick or treated or had fancy dress parties.
Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 20, 2011:
@HD, I see your point. But here, we have a trusted neighborhood.
After 9/11, in that year, I thought no child would show up on my doorstep for Halloween, but I had visitors in troves.
So, yes, it's neighborhood-dependent. We have a neighborhood of 750 homes (a mostly suburban place) and everybody pretty much knows everybody else. It's the way it used to be and now should be.
hot dorkage from Oregon, USA on October 20, 2011:
I like everything about Halloween except the trick or treating. ToT is a custom that assumes the backdrop of a culture from an age bygone -- that you could pay an annual visit to all your friends and neighbors, connect, and get a little treat. But now it's become so scaled up and impersonal, the kids might as well just post a pic of themselves in costume on the internet and request donations so they can buy all the candy they like.
People don't know their neighbors any more, and ToT-ing has become increasingly risky. I'm all for Halloween parties and parades and ToTing a few people you know, but mass canvassing is a custom that is dying out, as it should.
Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 20, 2011:
At the end of October, our bank puts up a sign on the outside doors that says "Adults in costume may not enter." There's good reason to prohibit adults in costume from entering a bank, but other than that, I'm all for costumes for all of any age!
In our neighborhood, parents often dress in costume as they chaperon their kids, but they never carry sacks for treats. This year, I'm going to make them do tricks!
I love your ideas about seniors celebrating Halloween, not to mention that photo in Princeton, and I shared this inspiring Hub on our Not So Old Broads facebook page here:
Up and awesome!
Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on October 20, 2011:
Hi Patty! Found this hub posted on my FB! I love it!
Halloween and 4th of July are mt favorite holidays. Two daughter have birthdays 4 days before each....on Halloween we have our annual costume party and contest. The kids vote on the best costume and we give out prizes, have a Piñata, cake and it's the best! I'm so sad that this year my girls said they are too old for the party:) lol. (@10 & 12?). I love costume parties!
I am noticing lots less trick or treaters here in Missouri and I live in a big subdivision. I don't care how old the ticker treater is that knocks on my door - I'd give them a handful of candy just like everyone else. I see it this way....if they went through the trouble to don a costume for my entertainment they deserve it! Voted up and everything!
Nicole A. Winter from Chicago, IL on October 20, 2011:
We live in Chicago & *love* going Trick or Treating... I've never stayed home to answer the door, there's a twelve year difference between myself & my sister... so well past the age where I wouldn't have gone Trick or Treating I was taking my sister, which was always super-fun. I would dress up, but I wouldn't take a bag or anything, my sister always shared her candy with the whole family, obviously. Then I had my daughter, so more Trick or Treating! When I'm old enough, (after my next child is grown,) to start staying home & answering doors, I know I would love to get senior citizen Trick or Treat takers! What a hoot.
It's sad, (I mean, really says a lot about the state of our world,) that we need laws to mandate who can and cannot go Trick or Treating. I have to wonder why these roaming bands of teens are out by themselves perpetuating all this vandalism. Shameful. I hate to think I could have had a $100 fine levied against me through high school just for dressing up to take my sister Trick or Treating... I always dressed as a clown and she *loved* it. (I hate clowns.) Now I go each year as Arthur Dent.
Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 19, 2011:
The cutoff age for trick or treating is a tough topic. I agree that age shouldn't limit costume design, though. I'm sure that art and architecture students could design many amazing costumes. Who hasn't been to an adult costume party at some point with lots of awesome costumes?
MikeNV from Henderson, NV on October 19, 2011:
I believe 13 is the appropriate age to stop. It's a little kids thing from door to door. At 13 one should be attending supervised parties. With each passing generation the activities seem less fun as we are a society consumed by our own fear of what can happen to unsupervised children. The nightly news makes us keenly aware of dangers to kids. I don't know what this says about a society where kids must be under such strict 24/7 supervision to ensure their safety. Kind of takes the fun out of it. I'm not familiar with Beggars Night... haven't heard that term before.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 19, 2011:
Just Ask Susan - I know several 10-year-olds that are almost 6' tall. Sad to hear you were treated poorly.
Maren Morgan M-T -- That sounds like a lot of fun, too,
Maren Elizabeth Morgan from Pennsylvania on October 19, 2011:
In my area many senior living communities welcome trick-or-treating kids on the designated night. The sr. folks get to enjoy the costumes and the families know the treats will be safe. Also, we have the un-costumed teens who go begging door-to-door, but they usually come around later in the evening. Anyone who does not want to give them candy just turns off theior house lights as the night gets late.
Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on October 19, 2011:
I was always tall for my age and at ten years old I dressed up in a boys Football uniform. I went up and knocked on this older ladies door and when she saw me she said to me "Shame on you, you're too old to be out trick or treating." I told her that I was only ten years old but she did not believe me and slammed the door in my face.
I agree with what leroy has said. More adults out with the children would help with the hoodlums causing problems.
In my neighborhood I am finding that we get fewer and fewer children coming out at Halloween each year. I am starting to wonder if this is because the children get candy all year round and have little or no need to go outdoor to door. Just a thought.
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 19, 2011:
I read on a forum at city-data.com about a grandmom age 53 (it was her birthday) that dressed as Cleopatra in 2010 and took her two small grandkids Trick or Treating. She had a bad experience at only one house - there, a woman yelled that she was too old and did not need candy. A neighbor called the grandmom over and gave her candy!
Brian L. Powell from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff) on October 19, 2011:
Maybe the presence of Trick or Treating adults would discourage the idiots causing the problems. I remember a lot of parents watching closely as we kids went door to door. Save the candy for the kids though.
Dave Mathews from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA on October 19, 2011:
Halloween trick or treating has slowly lost it's attraction, especially in big cities, concrete jungles. Apartment buildings and Condos frown upon permitting kids to go floor to floor, door to door, collecting treats, and how much joy is there for the kids when their parents have to inspect their gatherings to insure that the kids candies etc. are safe from preditors that might do harm.
Parties are all a rage these days and far safer too.
jenubouka on October 19, 2011:
You are right about the teens on trick or treat night, I encountered this last year and was appalled by their lack of respect. They did not even bother to dress up, my optimistic side just wanted to believe they could not afford a costume, but they were old enough to pull some weeds, earn a few bucks, and get their own candy at the dollar store.
And it would be a treat for the seniors to knock on the door, reliving youth, plus they'd at least share their candy.
L.L. Woodard from Oklahoma City on October 18, 2011:
I don't actively trick-or-treat any longer, but I do dress in costume to answer the door for the younger folk. I am all for senior citizens doing anything any other age group does, but IMHO get-togethers such as costume parties may be more appropriate than going door-to-door. I can just imagine the faces of neighbors when they open the door to octogenarians.
FloraBreenRobison on October 18, 2011:
I last went trick or treating when I was 13. I got a lot of apples.
whynot1 on October 18, 2011:
Interesting hub! Great job! Although I think obnoxious teens are annoying - I think we don't need yet another law in this country to mandate who can and cannot go trick or treating!
Lisa Kroulik from North Dakota on October 18, 2011:
My 15 year old daughter is 5 foot 9, looks at least 18 and wants to go trick or treating. I told her I think she's too old, so she is offering to take her 12 year old sister, who is also probably too old. I won't stop them from going as maybe they need to experience embarrassment to quelch the desire to trick or treat. The past few years we have gone to a party at our church on Halloween, so I'm hoping they will want to do that this year too.