Town That Hates Joy Bans Kids Over 16 From Trick-Or-Treating

by Meredith Bland
Image via Andrezza Vieira Gonalves/ EyeEm/Getty Images

Kids over 16 face a $200 fine for trick-or-treating

The city of Bathurst, in New Brunswick, Canada, takes trick-or-treating very seriously — so seriously, in fact, that the city council passed a law on October 3rd that bans anyone over the age of 16 from trick-or-treating and puts in place a Halloween curfew of 8 p.m.

They’re also adopting a new slogan: “Bathurst: What are you smiling about?”

According to the CBC, the new law states that trick-or-treaters over 16 and anyone found in a “facial disguise” after curfew on Halloween could face a $200 fine.

For those who think this is a little over the top, you’ll be pleased to know that this is actually a relaxation of the old laws, which put the curfew at 7 p.m. and capped trick-or-treating at age 14. For those who still think this is over the top, you’re right.

Deputy Mayor Kim Chamberlain has been trying to get the laws off the books, but she continues to be outvoted by some extraordinarily cranky lawmakers. “It’s silly,” Chamberlain said. “If I have a trick-or-treater knock on my door at 8:30 p.m. I’m not going to say no.” Well, Deputy Mayor, I think you’ve just guaranteed that a militia of self-important Halloween vigilantes will be parking their Rascals outside your door at 8 p.m. on the 31st, ready to call the Mounties and shake their fists at you.

And make no mistake about the date — it will be October 31st. Bathurst has made sure of that by passing another bylaw stating that Halloween is to be celebrated on the 31st and only the 31st. Apparently, some communities have had the audacity to move their Halloween celebrations to the 30th during years when Halloween has fallen on a Sunday.

If there’s one thing Bathurst’s city council won’t tolerate, it’s messing with the traditions of this carefully observed holiday with legal penalties for incorrect celebration.

City spokesman Luc Foulem told the CBC that the laws were first put into place to appease residents who were concerned about “troublemakers” on Halloween. TODAY reports that according to the 2016 census, about 49% of Bathurst’s residents are age 55 or older. But we’re sure that has nothing to do with it. (Sips tea.)

The long-suffering Deputy Mayor of Bathurst pointed out another possible flaw in the town’s trick-or-treating age limit: “Some kids are tall,” she tells the CBC. “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.”

No, it doesn’t. But is it going to happen? You bet your rinsed-out Ziploc bags it will. The good news for area teens is that these helpful citizens will have to catch you first, and we’re going to bet your 16-year-old legs can outrun arthritis.

Halloween is a fun, silly holiday where kids get to goof around and get free candy. Yes, it can be irritating when a teenager with no costume on shows up at your door smoking a cigarette and holding out a pillowcase. But if you’re that opposed to giving the kid a mini-Snickers, then you have the right to tell them to scram and shut your door. You also have the right to turn off your porch light after 8 pm and refuse to answer to any knocks if you’ve decided it’s too late to give a child candy. You see, as an adult, there are all sorts of choices you can make to satisfy your views on proper Halloween etiquette but still keep your nose out of everyone else’s business.

But I will say that by doing so you’re closing yourself off to some really fun parts of a really fun holiday. A few years ago, I had a teen show up at my house with some leaves stuffed in his baseball cap. I said, “What are you?” And he said, deadpan, “I’m a bush.” I laughed till I cried and gave him a ton of candy.

When you let kids be kids and stop trying to enact laws that revolve around your comfort, the world is a happier place for everybody. You will also find less toilet paper on your property come November 1st.