true crime

14 years old? Put away that costume!

Halloween is coming. It’s not much of a thing here in Germany, although there are some folks who celebrate it. We weren’t living in Wiesbaden last year when Halloween came around, and for the total of six years (in two different stints) we were down near Stuttgart, I could probably count on one hand the number of people who rang our bell looking for candy. But we still dutifully get candy in case someone is looking for a handout. It’s a habit. I remember trick or treating as a kid and coming home with huge hauls of candy that would take weeks to finish eating. It wasn’t healthy, but it was fun.

This is me in England, aged five, and dressed in my lame gypsy costume. We weren’t culturally aware in the 70s. I was a gypsy a lot of years because it was easy.

I was born and mostly grew up in southeastern Virginia, save three years at Mildenhall Air Force Base in England and a couple of years in Dayton, Ohio during babyhood that I don’t remember. In fact, I came of age maybe an hour’s drive from Chesapeake, Virginia… if the traffic was light, anyway. I know the area, which is maybe about thirteen miles from Norfolk. I watched TV channels from the Chesapeake area and, a couple of times, even visited Greenbrier Mall on a whim. My mom was horrified when I told her that I did that. I was bored, still enjoyed driving, and gas was cheap in those days.

In all of my years living in the Tidewater area of Virginia, I never knew that since 1970, it was against the law in Chesapeake, Virginia for anyone over age 12 to trick or treat. In fact, until last year, violating the law could have resulted in up to a $100 fine and a six month jail sentence! This news went viral last year, but I missed it because Bill and I were neck deep in house hunting and cleaning in October 2018.

A news report about the trick or treating law from last year, after Jimmy Kimmel poked fun at it. Click the link to see the whole routine on Twitter.

I saw something about the law a couple of days ago, but didn’t really read up about it until this morning, when The New York Times shared a piece about Chesapeake’s controversial trick or treating rules. Apparently, the ordinance was passed in 1970 because a couple of years prior, a couple of teenagers threw firecrackers or some other explosive into kids’ trick or treat bags. There were injuries, so lawmakers determined that there ought to be a law against costumed teens running amok on Halloween. As I read the story about how the law came to be, I was wondering if what had really happened was that teens answering the door handed out explosives. But the law was made many years ago… in fact, before I was even born! And although it was a legit law, it was largely unenforced and kind of obscure.

Since news about the law went viral last year, local lawmakers in Chesapeake changed the rule. Now, if you trick or treat when you’re older than 14 years old, you could be fined $250. It’s considered a misdemeanor. But even though this ordinance exists, Chesapeake cops aren’t even planning to enforce it. I’m sure they kept it in case a teen commits an illegal act and they need another reason to levy a fine or something. Instead, the cops are going to focus on controlling traffic so the costumed kiddies will be safer as they beg for sweets. Below is a screenshot of the new law, passed in March of this year.

Here’s a link to the official source of this new law.

I had a good laugh reading the comments on the New York Times Facebook page about this law. Most of the people commenting, naturally, did not read the article. They lamented how “stupid” the rule is and how it’s impossible to enforce it, particularly since kids are notoriously at different stages of growth between 12 and 14 years of age. I myself never grew past five feet two inches and looked pretty young when I was that age. I had peers who looked more mature or less mature. Those years are topsy turvy when it comes to human development.

However… my favorite comment was this one:

A kid drenched in blood with a string out the top of his head. Rang my bell at 10pm. I opened the door…… “ I’m your period, sorry I’m late” Gave him the rest of the bowl.

Man, I think I can go back to bed now! My day is officially made! Especially since this month, Aunt Flow happens to be late. She’ll probably show up on the weekend, because she always shows up when it’s time for fun. What can I say? I am totally gross on so many levels. I love jokes about periods. I love Halloween, too.

Someone else commented that adults trick or treat by carrying a wine glass and getting a refill at each house. I like that tradition, although in my current neighborhood, we have a “wine stand” every other Friday night. I believe there will be one tonight, too. I’m sure Bill and I will be there.

I also agree with Foamy about this… if some teenager rings my bell looking for candy on Halloween, I’m gonna hand it over. I’d rather teens trick or treat and enjoy a wholesome activity with other kids, than get into mischief.

But anyway… I hope everyone has a happy Halloween and no one’s teenager gets arrested for trick or treating over-age. I kind of miss living in the country, where it was easy to see all of the fall decorations and visit farms selling pumpkins and such. I’m sure we have them up here, too. I just haven’t found them yet.