Halloween is a holiday that gives license to kids and adults alike to get silly and strange. But in some places, the law doesn’t want you going too far with your Halloween celebrations. From a ban on Silly String to outlawing trick-or-treating on Sundays, here are some laws aimed at protecting the public from the potential human-made horrors of Halloween.
Halloween laws: No masks, no clowns, no nuns
No masks for adults: Belleville, Illinois has a host of regulations on trick-or-treating, including a ban on masks for anyone over 12 years old, limiting trick-or-treating to children in the eighth grade and under, and a trick-or-treating curfew (5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.). It also helpfully offers a legal definition for trick-or-treating: “Halloween solicitation shall mean seeking or obtaining gifts, food, candy or contributions of money, as is customarily and commonly know as ‘trick or treat,’ in the celebration of Halloween Day.”
No masks for anyone: In Walnut, California, no one of any age is allowed to “wear a mask or disguise on a public street” without a permit from the sheriff — on Halloween and the other 364 days of the year.
No public offense: Under California state law, it’s illegal to wear a “mask, false whiskers, or any personal disguise” in order to conceal your identity when you are committing a “public offense” or trying to escape when charged with, arrested for or convicted of a crime. So trick-or-treating on Halloween with a false mustache is legal, but don’t don some phony lip whiskers while robbing a bank or running from the police.
No Sundays: Meanwhile, in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, trick-or-treating is illegal on Halloween if it falls on a Sunday. In that case, trick-or-treating is only legal (strictly by children under 14 years old) on October 30 between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
No nuns: It’s illegal in Alabama to dress up as a “minister of any religion, or nun, priest, rabbi or other member of the clergy,” on Halloween or any other day. Those who do can be punished with a fine of up to $500 and a stint in the county jail for up to a year.
No Silly String: In Hollywood, California, it’s against the law to “possess, use, sell or distribute Silly String” in public from 12:01 a.m. on October 31 to noon November 1. Violating the law can result in a $1,000 fine.
No teen trick-or-treating: In Newport News, Virginia, trick-or-treating by anyone over the age of 12 is prohibited. And even if you are of legal age to trick-or-treat, you may do so no later than 8:00 p.m. Breaking either of those rules is a Class 4 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $250. If you are older than 12, you may accompany trick-or-treaters, but you better not wear a mask if you are over 16 — that’s illegal, even on Halloween.
Just in case you thought all this Halloween hysteria was limited to the United States, here are three examples that prove otherwise:
No disguise after curfew: In Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada, a proposed law expected to pass this month offers 15- and 16-year-olds a break. The proposed law allows those 16 and younger to trick-or-treat, loosening previous restrictions that banned trick-or-treating by anyone over 14. It also adjusts the trick-or-treating curfew from 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Even though the new rules offer a little more leeway, breaking them can result in a $200 fine, including for those found wearing a “facial disguise” after curfew. That translates to about $160 US dollars as of this writing.
No clowns: In 2014, the town of Vendargues, France, banned clown costumes on Halloween and for the entire month of November for anyone 13 and older. Those wishing to dress up as clowns for “fairs or other public festivities” during the ban were required to get permission from the authorities.
No public celebration: Also in 2014 (apparently a bad year for Halloween celebrations outside of the United States), Jordan banned all public celebrations of Halloween. The U.S. embassy advised U.S. citizens to “expect police reaction, including arrests, at any public Halloween-themed event. The U.S. Embassy advises that U.S. citizens traveling from their home to a Halloween party, or vice versa, cover up their costumes while in public or in a car.”
It would be a shame to have to call a lawyer on Halloween, so try not to run afoul of any of these scary laws this October 31. Wishing you a safe, spooky, and sweet holiday!