A Virginia town that took some flack for an outdated Halloween city ordinance is finally changing the law to no longer jail teenage trick-or-treaters.
To be fair to Chesapeake, Virginia, nobody has ever actually been jailed thanks to the 50-year-old city ordinance that makes it illegal to anyone over the age of 12 to be trick-or-treating. But that didn’t stop it from becoming national news last Halloween.
Reports surfaced on such sites as CBS and Buzzfeed that lambasted the poor town of Chesapeake for being so cruel as to jail 13 and 14-year-olds who just want to keep the good times rolling a little bit longer. Everywhere you looked, Chesapeake’s law was held up for all to see: everyone caught trick or treating over the age of 12 faced fines up to $100 or 6 months in jail. Or both.
Some even pointed out that Chesapeake also makes it illegal to be out trick-or-treating past 8 PM. It’s like the entire town has something against Halloween.
At one point, Chesapeake even became the butt of a joke on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
After becoming the laughing stock of the nation, Chesapeake had finally had enough.
An amendment to the ordinance was voted on Tuesday that would eliminate the jail time and increase the fine to $250. It also reduces the offense to a class 4 misdemeanor, although it’s still technically illegal to be a teenager and trick-or-treat or be out past 8 PM.
City councilors noted that nobody has ever actually been jailed under the ordinance, but changing it to be a slightly larger fine instead of jail time brings it more in line with neighboring municipalities. Plus, $250 is a bit more of a deterrence.
Still, it seems like the town has a hate-on for Halloween. Sure, there should perhaps be an age cutoff for trick-or-treating, but it’s likely more enforceable by societal pressure than the threat of legal action. After all, when’s the last time you saw an adult go trick-or-treating?