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Ever wondered if Halloween celebrations can get you into trouble with the law? In this first part of Justia’s Halloween series, we will tell you about some of the laws that can transform a fun celebration into a real nightmare.
Sweets, decorations, costumes, and lots of laughter are the main ingredients for a fang-tastic Halloween celebration. Of course, some rules must be followed to avoid getting into trouble with the law.
Most Halloween laws are a matter of common sense, such as respecting private property and not causing a public disturbance. For example, if you planned to throw eggs at houses that don’t give out candy, that is undoubtedly a bad idea.
However, there are places where the laws governing Halloween celebrations are shockingly specific and strict. Because getting into trouble with the law can turn a Halloween celebration truly scary, you may want to check out some of these weird laws before you head out on your spooktacular adventures.
Too Old for Halloween
A couple of years ago, Chesapeake, Virginia drew public attention, when the news went viral: only children 12 and under were permitted to celebrate Halloween by trick-or-treating. As the news drew public attention, the city’s Director of Public Communications subsequently announced a higher trick-or-treating age limit and further stated that officers were not checking the ages of trick-or-treaters, as long as all celebrations maintained order and respect for the law.
But Chesapeake is not the only one with age restrictions. Other Virginia cities, including Newport News, Virginia Beach, and Suffolk have been noted to have age restrictions on Halloween trick-or-treating. These restrictions even extend outside of the United States. In Canada, the city of Bathurst, New Brunswick restricts people over the age of 16 from asking for Halloween candy on the streets.
Planning to trick-or-treat this year? Perhaps it is best to clarify what restrictions are in place in your area.
No Porch Lights, No Treats
Most children and their parents understand that houses with the porch light off and no decorations are not giving out Halloween treats. Using their common sense, people normally skip these homes on their trick-or-treat adventures. However, some places felt the need to write this into law. In Forsyth, Illinois visitors can only approach houses with exterior lights on, or they face an up to $750 fine.
No Halloween on Sundays
If you live near Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, you may want to pay attention to the calendar and watch what day Halloween falls on. If October 31 is any day Monday through Saturday, you can usually have a spooktacular celebration.
However, if Halloween falls on a Sunday, it is illegal to partake in some traditional celebrations. Move your plans to October 30 instead, and only trick-or-treat if you are under 14 years old.
Clowns Aren’t Welcome
If you ever travel to Vendargues, France during the Halloween season, think twice about your costume before celebrating. In this town, it is forbidden for those over the age of 13 to dress up as a clown on Halloween and during the whole month of November. If you need to wear a clown costume for some reason during this time, you need to obtain special permission from town authorities.
Take Away Your Masks
What would Halloween costumes be without the masks? In some cities, you will almost certainly find out. Many places have laws addressing whether people may wear masks or accessories that hide their facial features, including Walnut, California, Belleville, Illinois, and Dublin, Georgia.
Notably, many of the laws were written before the COVID-19 era and may no longer be entirely applicable. Therefore, you should always check the rules for where you live regarding masks.
Beware of the Curfew
Some cities have strict laws ending trick-or-treating at 8:00 pm. These include previously mentioned cities, such as Newport News in Virginia and Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada. Other cities, such as Boston and Philadelphia have historically established Halloween schedules or suggested curfews.
While many reports indicate some of these curfews are flexible or considered a recommendation, you should always be aware of the rules in your town for the holiday.
Stay Away From Clergy Costumes
Costume shops have many options for you to choose the scariest, funniest, or cutest costume. But if you live in Alabama, you may want to avoid ministers’ costumes, since the law prohibits “fraudulently pretending to be a clergyman”, including dressing up as a nun, priest, rabbi, or other clergy person. If you decide to risk it, you could face a fine of up to $500!
Watch Out for the Silly
Hollywood, California may be known as a place for partying and fun, but if your Halloween celebrations take you to Hollywood, beware of “silly string” or spray streamers. The sale, possession, distribution, or use of this classic party staple is generally prohibited on Halloween.
No Corsets in Your Outfit
You may have the perfect vision of your costume for Halloween parties and celebrations. Maybe you will be a zombie, the Bride of Frankenstein, a fairy, a superhero, or a character from the Middle Ages. If you live in Maryville, Missouri (or a city with a similar law), think twice about any costume that includes a corset. This garment is strictly prohibited. Perhaps even more surprisingly, this ban is not limited to just the Halloween season!
No Halloween for You
If you find yourself visiting the small, Middle-Eastern country of Jordan in the final days of October, you should be aware that public Halloween celebrations are historically prohibited. The prohibition is so strict that some foreign embassies advise their citizens not to even put on their costumes for a private Halloween party in the country until after they arrive at the event.
Final Thoughts: Why Do You Care?
Halloween is a celebration that should be a fun-filled time. However, it is important to know what laws may affect the party in your area. Not only do you want to stay out of trouble, but also want to be aware of issues that may cause others to look for a lawyer after the holiday too!
Lawyers should make sure that people can find you online, for example in the Justia Lawyer Directory, so that they can call you for help if their Halloween celebration turns into a nightmare.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational and entertainment purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Justia Inc. or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.
No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.