New Brunswick by-law to discourage trick-or-treating is horrifying

Op-eds Opinions

It was those pink, hard-yet-juicy Swedish Berries candies (the ones that stuck to the back of your teeth when you chewed) that hooked me on Halloween.

Ever since I was a child dressed in my T-Rex costume, I would rush home every Oct. 31 to scour through my sugary loot, looking for those fluorescent candy packages. This tradition continued until I was sixteen, when I realized I had reached the age where you get dirty looks when knocking on strangers’ doors, yelling “Trick or Treat!” at them.

It’s not just me — nearly every child growing up looks forward to Halloween and the sugar stash that fills up their candy bag. This week, as Halloween is rapidly approaching, children across the Greater Victoria Area are gearing up for another day of ghosts, goblins, and cavities on Nov. 1.

New Brunswickian T-Rexes are going to be very sad when they get a $200 fine because they can’t remove their face-covering costumes with their short, stubby arms. Photo by Harry McKenna, Photo Contributor

However, the New Brunswick town of Bathurst has recently opposed the idea of trick or treating by setting curfews and banning older teens from going out at all.

The proposed bylaw, which is expected to pass the third reading and become policy, bans anyone older than sixteen from trick or treating and includes a curfew of 8 p.m. for all trick or treaters. Furthermore, anyone that is caught wearing any sort of facial mask — such as a zombie mask — after curfew in public could face a $200 fine.

Despite the stiff changes, Kim Chamberlain, the deputy mayor of Bathurst, says  in a Globe and Mail article that the town didn’t go far enough. Originally, Chamberlain wanted the bylaw to forbid children over the age of 14 to trick or treat door-to-door, and she wanted to impose an hour earlier curfew of  7 p.m.

“I wanted to demolish [trick or treating] altogether but I got outvoted,” Chamberlain said. “At least we were able to make some modifications.”

The main reason cited behind this outrageous law is public safety — some older citizens in the community have complained about ”‘troublemakers” in the area.

The irony is that proposing such a law will definitely spark further unrest. Teens and children will rebel, and surely homeowners won’t close their doors if a trick or treater wearing a face mask knocks on their door at 8:01 p.m.

The phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” fits perfectly here.

Sure, Halloween has its flaws. There can be unrest on the streets at night, fireworks going off at all hours of the night, or UVic students wandering around campus in costume acting foolish. This all can be mildly annoying.

But why punish the children who look forward to walking the streets in their cowboy or princess costumes and simply want to collect candy?

All children should be allowed to have fun and have a night off for once, especially those aged 16 and up.

Constantly dealing with tests, projects, and papers leaves adolescents battling stress. Halloween allows one night for students to transport themselves away from these worries and into the costume and life of someone else.

From creating group costumes to haunted houses, everyone involved always has a smile on their face, and nobody is preoccupied with their daily stressors.

We should be celebrating Halloween and the joys of pretending to live as someone else for a night. Not being the Grinch who, instead of stealing Christmas, stole Halloween, from the children of Bathurst N.B.