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Does anybody else live in a city that “decides” when kids will go trick-or-treating…and it’s not on Halloween? We moved to Huntington, West Virginia seven years ago and this was the first place I’d ever even heard of such a thing. It rubs me the wrong way, because this is a cultural practice that’s evolved, independent of government, over many hundreds of years. It strikes me as a gross overstepping of authority for a city to assign a date on which the custom will be carried out by individual citizens, especially when that date isn’t when the culture says it should be. It’s almost as if the city decreed that people will open their Christmas presents on December 23rd.
I’m not all that interested in justifications for why they’re choosing a given date, though I’ve heard rumors that it’s to avoid kids being out when drunk adults are driving back from their Halloween parties. I’m mostly wondering how a city thinks it can insert itself into this aspect of private life. And what is it that the city actually does in assigning the date? Do they pass a law? Surely not. Do they have some informal resolution of the city council encouraging people? More likely, but I’ve never heard the details.
This is so foreign a concept to me that I’m amazed the citizens all go along with this. If it were a recent innovation, there would have to be push-back, but I’m not hearing any. So I assume this was all fought out decades ago. Yet it’s the first place I’ve ever heard of it. My elder, teenaged daughter (who knows everything) tells me that the entire state does this, and that I should stop complaining. I have my doubts. But another city over the border, where I teach, does it too, and I wonder if it’s some regional thing.
At this point, I could make a larger point about government trying to change well-established cultural practices, but I’ll leave that for another time.