Monday, October 26, 2015

How Old Is Too Old to Trick or Treat?

Every year during the weeks leading up to Halloween, a question pops up on Facebook. It almost always leads to a heated discussion. The question? "How old is too old to trick or treat?"



The overwhelming majority of people believe there should be no age limit. They have two reasons for this: 1) we're all kids at heart and 2) they would rather people be trick or treating than playing pranks and causing trouble.



Some say as long as they have a costume (or at least some facsimile of a costume), they'll hand over candy. But all too often these too-old trick or treaters are easily identified by their complete lack of a costume.



Apparently, however, if you do trick or treat as a teen, you should be prepared to be confronted by an annoyed homeowner at some point. That may seem wrong, but it's actually against local ordinances in some states to trick or treat after a certain age.



The reason for the ban is the very same thing I've been arguing for about three years with these people. You see, I lived in a neighborhood that was in rapid decline. After the 2010 flood, you could buy a house there for $80K, so some shady elements were moving in. Those shady elements had no problem letting their teens roam the streets all day. On Halloween, those teens came out without a costume, grocery bag in hand, cell phone pressed to one ear as they held the bag toward you and waited for you to fill it with candy.




Age bans were passed because senior citizens and single moms expressed concerns that strange, lurking men were knocking on their doors and expecting them to open them. My personal fear, since the front door at my old house pretty much showed off the entire house, was that one of these un-costumed teens was scoping out my house. Crazy? Maybe...but you have to admit, Halloween is the one night a year that just about everyone will open the door to anyone who knocks.


Or will they? Over time, as more and more people accept uncostumed adults on Halloween night, more and more people will be doing this:



Which sucks because THIS is so much fun!



Does your city have age limits on trick or treating?

73 comments:

  1. Most of the kids here go to the mall for candy.
    I'd say teens could trick or treat as long as the had a costume. But adults? No way. Too dangerous.

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    1. Yeah, that's part of the problem. The little kids are going to the mall or to "Trunk or Treats" at churches. So that just means if you stay home to hand out candy on Halloween, you're dealing with older kids and adults who are trying to get free candy!

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  2. We. thankfully, don't have either Halloween nor Trick or Treating here (we celebrate the All Saints Day in a dignified way remembering our dead ones by going to the graveyards and bringing flowers) but I'm guessing primary school should be the limit for Trick or Treating :) Like, first four grades or something.

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    1. I know our Halloween traditions probably seem odd to other countries. On the show "Mad About You" back in the 90s, the couple knocked on their British neighbors' door and the woman said, "Oh, is that American holiday where people get dressed up and beg for food?"

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  3. There is no age limit here. I actually don't mind high schoolers trick or treating if they are in costume and act polite. What I think is ridiculous are the Dads who dress up and hold out a bag for candy. Um, no!

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    1. I haven't seen that yet. Interesting! I don't mind as long as I don't feel my safety is at risk. In the old neighborhood, I just started making plans for us on Halloween night so we wouldn't be home because it didn't feel safe anymore. Too many older guys, trick-or-treating alone without costume, getting a glimpse inside our house.

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  4. Over here we do not celebrate Halloween, so we do not have to argue over this. But with crime rate increasing, people are afraid to open their doors to strangers, be it adult men or women or even teenagers. Sometimes these bad people will even use children to trick people into opening their doors before they charge into the homes.

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    1. I think that will happen here, especially in the bigger cities. As Alex mentioned above, fewer parents will let their kids get candy from strangers, so they choose to go to church events where they have trunk or treat...or to the mall, where businesses are handing out the candy. Parents also take their kids to nice subdivisions where there are lots of families who really celebrate...so the outlying areas are deserted and you have just a few strange trick or treaters lurking the streets...

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  5. We are in a small town now, so I think Halloween is pretty self-policing. I guess we will find out this weekend!

    But where I used to live, we had two (yes, two) days of trick or treating. It was huge (as in, 800 kids on a slow night). I was single at the time, and I hated every minute of Halloween. Even though the nights were supposed to go only four hours, people would show up early and all night. I usually got two or three adults on the following days asking if I had extra candy. That was awful. They definitely needed some rules on Halloween.

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    1. I remember visiting my mother-in-law when she lived in one of those neighborhoods where kids were brought in by the van loads... She would spend $100 on candy and be out in a matter of an hour...and they'd still be coming. You could turn out the lights and hang "We're out of candy" signs and they'd still knock. That was a little scary. Just TOO much. I would love to live in a neighborhood where everyone really celebrated Halloween, but there is a definite downside to it!

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  6. I don't know if our city has a limit; I'll have to check it out. I know its a fun holiday with trick or treating, but I always thought it was an odd custom to do it. We tell our kids not to take candy from a stranger and then we take them door to door to collect candy.

    It doesn't bother me if teens come trick or treating; most of the time it is fun to see what costumes they come up with.

    betty

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    1. It doesn't bother me unless they're scary...it's hard to define when that is. If you're in a neighborhood with lots of trick or treaters, though, it probably wouldn't be as much of a concern. Although if they can't be bothered to put their darn cell phones away or wear a costume, I think they should be turned away, but oddly, only senior citizens usually have the nerve to confront them on that!

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  7. I think I'll go trick or treating for booze. I wonder if I can get any free!! Lol.
    Seriously..the whole thing has gotten out of hand. I see a lot of grown men at my parents door and that scares me.

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    1. Yes! Adult trick or treating. Sounds fun. Maybe downtown bars should do that...like a pub crawl only with costumes!

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  8. Goodness, I have no idea if my city has an ordinance or not. I know I'm slightly uncomfortable when teens come to the door. Maybe someone needs to come up with something for teens and us older folks to do on Halloween other than trick or treat.

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    1. I think the majority of teens hang out with their friends, to be honest. When I was around 13, NO WAY would I have been caught trick or treating. That was for kids and I wanted to be an adult! There's a bit of peer pressure attached to not being out doing something weird like that when all your classmates are hanging out at parties and having sleepovers.

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  9. Not sure if there's an age limit here, but I can understand the problem with teens and/or adults trick or treating. Now if the adults dress up and trick or treat with their young children, now that's totally different.

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    1. I think there probably will have to be an incident before most cities will actually pass (or even enforce) laws about age limits.

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  10. Over the last few years, we've lived in neighborhoods with few kids, and the ones there tended to go to the community party. Where we are now, they have certain hours for trick or treating and if you, as a homeowner want to participate, leave the front lights on. Otherwise, don't and you shouldn't be bothered.

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    1. Yeah, having the light out usually gets them to leave you alone. I have fun handing out candy, but I don't expect we'll have any where we are now. Most parents take their kids to neighborhoods and we're on a main street, not a neighborhood.

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  11. There's no age limits here and I don't think there should be. I would LOVE for an old couple to show up at my door in costume. That would be awesome! I remember my last year trick-or-treating was when I was 12. I was tall as a kid, and so many people gave me crap about still going out in costume. I was devastated. I really love giving out candy and seeing everyone in costume, but actually going out is the biggest thrill.

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    1. That would be fun! But I will stress that the teens I had issue with weren't wearing costumes. If they were, it was a halfway attempt at one. They were male, alone, and holding a grocery bag... After a couple of years, we just stopped participating because I was feeling uneasy about it.

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  12. I personally wish there were age limits... I have had to put my foot down with my daughter and advised her this is the last year... next year I am going to plan a Halloween party for her and a few of her friends... at least she can get dressed up and enjoy the holidays xox

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    1. When I was young, many of the kids were told by their parents that the city had an age limit. Of course, now they can Google it, but back then we didn't know any better. We thought police would actually arrest us if we trick or treated after the age of...13, I think it was?

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  13. "... you could buy a house there for $80K ..." - That is awesome as a decline marker! Here the median is just over $100k so $80k will actually get you a livable house in a respectable area. I just love hearing about the housing price-points around the country compared to locally.

    We don't have any assigned age points that I know of but typically if you approach 5 feet tall you start getting grief. When I was 11 I started hearing side-comments about it as I left houses so at age 12 I carried signage that said "Over 10 need not apply" and posted it on the door of any house that commented about my age. I decided that would be my last year so I figured I'd go out in style ;-)

    Mom was not so impressed when the phone calls came later .......

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    1. I am totally going to have my kids do this when they get old enough....

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    2. Haha. I didn't realize people were actually hassled about it. If someone is wearing a costume, I'm probably not even going to think twice about handing out candy. It's the non-costumed ones that bug me.

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  14. I won't be home that night so I won't be dealing with all this. One of the last times Halloween was on a weekday no one showed up at all. And since it's a Saturday this year, I have no desire to stay home waiting on the kids.

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    1. I think in some neighborhoods, there just aren't enough kids coming around to make a difference.

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  15. I would be a little curious as to exactly how many reports of actual Halloween related home-invasions there are. Yes, on Halloween you open your door to hundreds of strangers. But there's also hundreds of witnesses on the street. Seems like it would police itself.

    The vast majority of older kids/teens will be at parties/home watching movies on Halloween, but if some of them come to your door, throw them a few a few pieces of candy. It will greatly reduce the chance of someone throwing eggs or toilet paper at your house.

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    1. I'm not sure how it is where you live, but in less affluent areas of town here in Nashville, most of the people just don't participate. The parents take their kids to the mall or they go to a nearby neighborhood where there are more families and more houses have their lights on. In our old neighborhood, most of the houses were dark and you could go 15-30 minutes without a soul on the streets. Then a random group would happen by. These solo teens were knocking on our door around 8 or 9 pm and, as I said, the had no costumes and were often on their cell phones. My personal fear was not that they were going to do something that night but that they might be scoping out the situation--seeing how many people lived there, if we had dogs, if we had a security alarm, and if they could see any electronics...

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  16. We are never home on Halloween, so we don't know who's coming or not. We don't do Halloween. Used to be because our Little Bit barked at the doorbell, but now that she's gone we'll still come to the boat. Just don't want to deal with all the kids that are bused in.

    Have a fabulous day., ☺

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    1. That is definitely exacerbating the problem--parents are taking their children to the same few neighborhoods, which overwhelms the people who live in those neighborhoods and leaves people everywhere else with no trick or treaters at all. When you have to spend hundreds of dollars on candy and it still only lasts two hours, eventually you just give up! I've seen hundreds of kids in some of these neighborhoods at one time.

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  17. There's no limits here but Halloween isn't such a big deal as it is in the US. I personally think that trick or treating is for little ones, once they're at secondary school (age 11) they should pack it in. They're quite good though, they usually only knock on doors where they can see some sort of Halloween decoration displayed in my area, which is good because I wouldn't want to think of our elderly neighbours being disturbed every five minutes by the doorbell.

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    1. It's really up to the parents...and our parents told us 12/13 was the cutoff. I did have friends in high school who would say, "Hey, let's go try to get free candy" when I was 15 or 16 or so...but I thought it was illegal. And I also thought if you didn't have a costume, people wouldn't open the door when you knocked.

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  18. No age restriction here, but I found my own solution to these beggars...which is what they are. My thought is if you're old enough to get a job, buy your own candy.
    Here is my solution, I put pennies in the bottom of the candy bowl. As the trick or treaters walk up if they are little and adorable, top of the bowl and candy. Old enough to drive, I dig deep and grab a couple pennies. When tossed into the bag they thump like you really gave them something! Lol

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    1. LOL--or you could just put the cheap candy on bottom...you know--the candy everyone hates like circus peanuts and those icky peanut butter things wrapped in black or orange paper.

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    2. Lol Stephanie, my wife LOVES those peanut butter blobs!!! She'd kill me!

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  19. We don't celebrate Halloween (though the stores are pushing it). A few children come door to door. Which worries me. Yes, I live in the suburbs. No, I am not going to harm any children. Which isn't true of everyone. And last year the ONLY children to come knocking were under ten. And alone.

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    1. That is pretty scary. I would think parents would want to keep an eye on their kids!

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  20. No regulations here, but I believe there should be for exactly the reasons you stated. Sometimes they showed up long after we'd turned the lights off for the night! Once, when my grandma refused a group of especially rowdy teens, they proceeded to snatch the bags from a group of little ones; coming up the walk. After that we kept a bowl of old Easter eggs; filled with buttons and wrapped in colorful foil, by the door for the 'older' kids.
    As kids, we were not allowed to trick-or-treat after age 12, but by then we considered it something 'little kids' did anyway.

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    1. That's another complaint people have about older trick or treaters--they trample the little kids. I haven't seen that one yet...but I suppose bullying behavior can happen among younger kids, too. The problem is that younger kids will have their parents around to make them behave, but older kids are often unsupervised and can do whatever they want.

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  21. It's hard to say who's too old. I know teens who go trick-or-treating with their friends for the joy of dressing up and being with their friends. However, I have had scary, uncostumed adults and teens showing up at my house with a pillow case, expecting me to give them candy.

    A compromise for teens is a Halloween party, which is what my friends and I did, back in the day.

    For the past couple years, my teenage daughters have made plans with friends for Halloween. So my husband and I turn off the porch lights, put the German Shepherd in the yard to bark fiercely at everyone, and ... um ... go find another way to spend our evening. Wink, wink.

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    1. You go, girl! Yeah, I remember in sixth/seventh grade, Halloween switched to parties and watching movies or going to haunted houses with friends.

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  22. I don't care who trick or treats. I turn off the lights and hide in the back room of my house on Halloween.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I remember not having candy yet one year and keeping the lights out until my husband got home with it! Trick or treaters were already covering the neighborhood by then and I was afraid they'd follow him from the car into the house, yelling, "Trick or treat!"

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  23. I'm never done the whole trick-or-treat thing, so I'm not certain at what age. But if I were to venture a guess, I'd say when you are old enough to buy your own candy, you are to old to go out. Or if you are old enough to go to an adult party, you are too old. Unless the entire adult Halloween party decides to go carolling for candy. Wait, is that how that works?

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    1. I saw a meme that said if you're old enough to drive a car, you're too old to trick or treat!

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  24. Strange, lurking men were knocking on their doors... Well, that's scary so in keeping with the Halloween spirit, wouldn't you say?

    Nope, we've got no age limits. Lucky me. Why? This is why: CLICK!

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    1. Yes...unfortunately, real-life scary, creepy guys are MUCH scarier than fake vampires and witches!

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  25. Sadly we get almost no trick or treaters in our neighborhood but when we were in a neighborhood that did the rule was always "no costume - no candy".

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    1. Apparently some of these teens without costumes will say things like, "This is my costume. I'm going as a teenager this year" or some such nonsense!

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  26. Not that I know of. We do get a lot of teens. It doesn't bother me. Most are very polite and make the effort to dress up.

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    1. Yeah, I think it was the neighborhood we were in. This is a classier area...so I assume parents actually teach their kids manners. Although I'll be surprised if we get any trick or treaters since we're on a main road and parents tend to take their kids to neighborhoods.

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  27. I don't know of such law here but we never get anyone coming to our door on Halloween night any more. We used to have many kids in the neighbourhood and they are all grown up and gone... There are only a few teenagers in our neighbourhood and they never came to our door.

    The stores are overstocked with Halloween costumes, Walmart and Value Village are jam packed with Halloween costumes. I love the decor and the small cute kids but the school usually have parties for the kids to keep them off the street.
    My family have adult Halloween parties at someone's house and they bring food and they really have tons of fun. Everyone is in a costume and it's hard to know who is who. Too bad I don't live close by.

    Happy Halloween.
    Hugs,
    JB

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    1. It is funny how that happens in older neighborhoods. My mom's neighborhood is like that. Mostly retired people...no trick or treaters at all.

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  28. I had not heard the reasons against older kids trick-or-treating. I figure if they're in costume, it's all good. Some adults like to dress up and go with the kids. Some teens take their younger siblings. I'm good with that.

    Of course, where I live now we don't get trick-or-treaters. They go to the non-gated houses.

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  29. I don't know if my city has an age limit. Never really thought about it. Here in the country I don't have trick or treaters. Too dark. But I think it should be for kids. Older folks and teens could have parties. My opinion.

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  30. I'm in favor of all ages, but for goodness sake at least put on a costume.
    You're right though about the scoping things out. That's disconcerting.

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  31. No city ordinance here, but there aren't many trick or treaters, either. They have school parties, trunk or treats, block parties mostly.

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  32. I have a similar post coming later this week from Neko Random. I honestly don't care how old they are as long as they have a costume. High school is an awkward year for Halloween. Too old to trick or treat, too young to give out candy

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  33. No age limits but it can get scary I'm thinking. But my 6 ft son did go out with a friend a couple of years ago when they were 17 or 18 and they had sooo much fun, even talking to the homeowners who gave them funny looks and asked how old they were. I think a 12 year old opened one door and I forget that funny conversation.

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  34. No age limits here, in our area. I've never been big on celebrating Halloween and even when I was in a suburban area, my lights were out. Living here, beyond the back 40, I've never gotten any trick or treaters. All my neighbors live at least 2 or three miles from me and only one has little ones and she usually takes them into town to trick or treat.

    Teens are still kids and still enjoy kid things, so, why not. Like many have said, if they're wearing a costume, go for it.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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  35. I actually have no idea about age limits here, but I can completely understand why it would be creepy to have random people showing up at your door. I'm happy to pass out candy, so long as the person is dressed up and enjoying the holiday, no matter their age.

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  36. Good question, Stephanie! I honestly don't know if Montreal has age limits for trick or treating! I know that the last time I went trick or treating was when I was a teenager, and this was more than 40 years ago! However, my birthday is tomorrow (October 27th), and I have fond memories of my mother making my birthday party a Halloween celebration. She would invite a few of my friends, bake a cake with a Halloween theme, and even the tablecloth and napkins were brown and orange, to go with the Halloween theme. :)

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  37. Good question, Stephanie! I honestly don't know if Montreal has age limits for trick or treating! I know that the last time I went trick or treating was when I was a teenager, and this was more than 40 years ago! However, my birthday is tomorrow (October 27th), and I have fond memories of my mother making my birthday party a Halloween celebration. She would invite a few of my friends, bake a cake with a Halloween theme, and even the tablecloth and napkins were brown and orange, to go with the Halloween theme. :)

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  38. Oh gosh, I understand where you are coming from and never thought of that actually. I would flat out say, if you have no costume and you can't even put your cell phone away while you come to my door, then you can go away. I have no encountered anything like that. There is no law saying, after a certain age, no one can trick or treat. What I love is seeing how many adults dress up with their kids to go trick or treating. I have had little 8 month old children come with their dads trick or treating. The costumes are so cute and always say "Here is your candy daddy." The last time I went, I was 23! There was 3 of us, we dressed up as ghosts and went after 8pm so we knew we were not taking away from little kids. We made out like bandits!

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  39. AMEN to getting off the phone when you knock on my door. lol

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  40. I don't think we have an age limit here, but on my street, we don't get enough kids to make it worth it, so we turn the lights off and pretend we're not home. While watching scary movies, of course!

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  41. I just know that when the kids coming to the door are bigger than me, I ain't openin' up!

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  42. I'm on the fence about the age limit thing. I mean, yeah, it's dumb for teenagers to go trick-or-treating, especially without a costume. I almost wish it would be stigmatized so that they wouldn't even WANT to do it.

    I'm not on board with age limits, though, because, for example, my boyfriend has a special needs niece who is 21 and still LOVES dressing up and trick-or-treating. And she doesn't understand that she's "too old." So for her, it's all in good fun and she shouldn't be excluded because of her age.

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  43. why are you so obsessed with age? You are the type who defends cougars but gets into a rage over older men and younger women. Get over yourself.

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  44. I wish people weren't so judgmental. I went trick or treating once with my friend and her sister, both of whom I was a few years older than. No one questioned me at all, but both sisters got rude remarks about being too old to trick or treat. The reason? They were tall and big! They would each eventually grew up to over 6 feet tall, and even at 9 and 10 years old, they were the height and size of average adult women. I saw how much it upset them, and so I would never, ever question anyone who came to my door costume. I get the safety concerns, and I would be a bit ugh about people who show up not in costume, but otherwise, I don't care how old they are. Remember, there are special needs adults who may seem totally normal during a simple, short trick or treat exchange, and some of those "teenagers" that people seem to hate so much might actually just be little kids. So just calm down and fork over the candy. Holidays shouldn't be about hate and judging others.

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