City councils from different areas of the United States have passed various laws to regulate Halloween festivities that set clear (and sometimes unclear) expectations for the holiday. From banning Silly String to restricting the maximum trick-or-treating age, some cities have passed detailed laws to control the occasionally mischievous holiday.
No Trick-or-treating on Sundays
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
In Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, if Halloween falls on a Sunday, children must trick-or-treat the night before. The coastal city created the law to prevent children and their guardians from going door to door on Sunday evenings. The law does not require the complete rescheduling of Halloween but rather directs trick-or-treating festivities to the previous evening.
Rehoboth Beach also has a law that requires any parent or guardian to forbid their child from roaming the city streets on Halloween with the intent to cause trouble. The law does not specify a punishment or fine for breaking these Halloween specific laws.
No Priests, Nuns, or Rabbis
In the state of Alabama, pretending to be a religious representative—such as a minister, priest, nun, or rabbi—is classified as a misdemeanor. This law is in effect not only on Halloween but for the remainder of the year as well.
If you break this law, you could face a $500 fine and find yourself in a county jail for a year!
The enforceability of this law on Halloween is ambiguous, as authorities may understand that someone wearing a nun outfit is not trying to impersonate an actual nun, but instead wearing an innocent costume. However, you can never be too careful, so Alabama trick-or-treaters should use their best judgement.
No Silly String
In August 2004, Los Angeles City Council passed a law that banned Silly String (and all other brands of aerosol string) on Halloween in the Hollywood area. You are not allowed to possess, use, sell, or distribute Silly String in public places from 12 am on October 31 until noon on November 1.
The iconic Hollywood district draws a large crowd on Halloween evening which can result in a mess left behind on the street the following day. Before 2004, city workers who cleaned large amounts of Silly String off the streets complained and the city eventually passed the Silly String ban.
On Halloween, authorities post signs along Hollywood Boulevard that warn of the potential $1,000 fine for illegally possessing cans of the product. Silly String offenders can’t say they weren’t warned.
No Treats Without a Porch Light
Typically, trick-or-treaters and their parents don’t approach houses with the exterior lights off, but in Forsyth, Illinois, it’s a law. Forsyth kids looking for something sweet can only approach homes that have their porch lights on. This law allows residents to legally dictate if they want children and their parents to approach their homes and request a treat.
Breaking the rules can result in fines up-to $750, so residents of Forsyth should keep a close eye on porch lights while trick-or-treating.
If you are a homeowner in Forsyth (or anywhere else) who wants to give out candy, be sure to turn your exterior lights on. Give trick-or-treaters a clear sign that you are a willing participant in the festivities—or you may have to eat all that candy yourself (poor you)!
No Masks (if you are over 16)
In Dublin, Georgia, you are not allowed to wear a mask, hood, or any other item that conceals your identity in public places. This law applies to everyone throughout the year, except children 16 years of age and younger on Halloween.
Although the likelihood of prosecution on Halloween is debatable, adults in Dublin should still be aware of the consequences—even if the mask completes the costume.
No Masks (without a permit)
The Walnut city code is clear regarding the city’s attitude towards masks. No one is supposed to wear a mask or disguise on a public street without a permit from the sheriff. The law does not specify any exceptions, such as children or adults dressed up on Halloween, so the enforceability of this law is unclear.
If every person wanting to wear a mask tries to obtain a mask permit in the days leading up to Halloween, the law may inconvenience Walnut city officials and cause more trouble than it’s worth.
If you’re a Walnut resident, choose a costume that makes your face fully visible to ensure you’re not breaking any laws. If a mask is necessary to complete your costume, perhaps getting a permit is the best way to protect yourself.
No Treats After the Eighth Grade
Generally, society views trick-or-treating as an activity reserved for the younger generation, but exactly how old is too old? The city of Belleville, Illinois decided to settle the ambiguity surrounding the appropriate age to trick-or-treat.
A Belleville law restricts teenagers who are past the eighth grade (generally older than 13) from going door-to-door for candy on Halloween. The fine for breaking this local law ranges from $50-1,000.
And if you think Belleville is strict, Newport News, Virginia limits trick-or-treating to kids 12 years old and younger.
No Treats After 8 pm
Newport News, Virginia
In addition to imposing an age limit, a Newport News law dictates that trick-or-treating must end at 8 pm. If you do not abide by the Halloween curfew, you could be held accountable for a fine up to $250.
Like other Halloween-specific laws, it can be tricky to speculate the likelihood of authorities strictly imposing the rules. Just to be safe, pay close attention to the clock if you are trick-or-treating in Newport News, Virginia.
Halloween is a fun holiday that can bring the family together. Kids embrace their creativity and explore their communities—all while filling up on candy. Adults accompany their kids for trick-or-treating and sometimes attend a party of their own. Wherever you find yourself this Halloween, consider your city’s laws and always remember to be safe and have fun.