US & Canada

One Canadian town bans teenagers from trick-or-treating

People trick-or-treat in a Brooklyn neighborhood on Halloween night on October 31, 2015 in New York City. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Is he over 14?

If you're old enough to see Blair Witch in theatres this Halloween, you are too old for trick-or-treating in one Canadian town.

Bathurst, New Brunswick forbids teens from trick-or-treating on 31 October.

Those that break these rules could be subject to a fine up to CA$200 ($149; £122)

"No person(s) over the age of 14 yrs. shall take part in door-to-door soliciting (trick-or-treating)," the town bylaw states.

The bylaw also says that once the clock strikes 19:00, frivolities like "door-to-door soliciting" and "facial disguises" are also banned.

Image copyright AFP PHOTO
Image caption One Canadian town won't let teens trick or treat

The rules have been on the books since 2005 but have only recently received widespread attention, ever since local parent Calvin Sisk complained to the mayor that his older teenage daughter couldn't celebrate All Hallows Eve with her younger sister.

"There are some kids that are old, but they're really young at heart. That's what my daughter is. She's 16 years old and she can't go out with her sister anymore trick-or-treating," Sisk told the Toronto Star. "She missed Halloween last year because of the bylaw."


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Mr Sisk brought the issue up with the mayor, Paolo Fongemie, who discussed it during October's council meeting in the presence of media.

Over the next week, dozens of news outlets reported on the Halloween-ruining bylaw, and Mr Fongemie's phone has been ringing off the hook.

"It's divided a little bit our community right now," Mr Fongemie, who was elected early this spring, told the BBC.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Jack-o'-lanterns are displayed at the 'Rise of the Jack OLanterns' exhibition

Some say the laws were enacted to prevent common hooliganism, but others, including the mayor, say it also kills joy.

Deputy Mayor Lee Stever told the Canadian Press that he believes the law was enacted because some senior citizens had complained about older kids bothering them late at night.

"I've noticed that after 7 pm, most kids are off the street so I think most people are aware of it," Mr Stever said. "So, I'm not in favour of changing it."

Mr Fongemie says he was initially "surprised" to find out they even had such a bylaw, and can't remember the last time it was enforced.

"I think we can achieve the same goal in order to have public safety and still have kids have fun," he said.

Mr Fongemie said the town of 12,000 has one of the oldest populations in the province of New Brunswick, with an average age of 50, and all this publicity isn't helping them attract a younger demographic.

"I'm not sure with the reaction it's getting, we're achieving that goal," he said.

Mr Fongemie said it is too late to do anything about the bylaw this year, but he hopes council will agree to amend it for 2017.

"I think it's more of a type of a guideline, a community thing, and I think it allows an opportunity for the community to say 'look this is how we want to celebrate Halloween,'" he said.

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