ACROSS AMERICA — No matter your age, if you enjoy dressing up in costume and cajoling your neighbors into giving you candy, go out and have the best times of your lives on trick or treat night, the majority of readers told us for Block Talk, Patch’s exclusive neighborhood etiquette column.

About 180 people from across the country answered our informal survey asking: How old is too old to trick or treat? With her breezy answer, Katie in Connecticut epitomizes the fun-loving spirit of Halloween that will be on display in neighborhoods across America in the coming days.

“When you’re dead, then you’re upgraded to lawn decorations,” the Milford Patch and Framingham Patch reader said. “Nobody wants to drag your body through the neighborhood, and you can’t even eat the candy. You will make a fabulous zombie for your front yard.”

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Stop, Katie. You’re killing us. We hope with every fiber of our mortal being not to show up next year on the lawn.

Another Connecticut reader, Jodie, figures it this way: “If you are never too old to look up in the sky on Christmas Eve, you are never too old for trick-or-treating.”

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The Vernon Patch and Manchester Patch reader added: “People handing out candy should not refuse anyone. When you run out of candy, you run out.”

Trick-or-treating is just a fun way for people of all ages to blow off steam and have some fun, said a reader named Judy.

“It’s fun, silly and a time to always feel like a kid,” said Judy, who said she jumps randomly around Patch local news sites. “I’d love an adult in costume to come to the door, laughing at their own silliness.”

Liz said that as long as older kids and adults are having fun and not causing problems, there’s no reason they shouldn’t go trick-or-treating.

“Many adults go with their children, all dressed up,” Liz said. “I love Halloween and went out for many years as an adult, mostly to family and friends’ homes.”

“No limits,” said Burke (Virginia) Patch reader Mary. “You’re never too old. I hand out candy to anyone who stops by.”

Brittani, who reads Bel Air (Maryland) Patch, joked that when Halloween revelers turn 150, it’s time to hang up the costume. The point, according to Brittani, is that “everyone should be able to trick or treat.”

“No cut-off age,” said Clearwater (Florida) Patch reader Sallie, who added, “Ever.”

“Never too old,” Canton-Sixes (Georgia) Patch reader Jamie said.

“Life is short,” said !Manalapan (New Jersey) Patch reader Dee. “Enjoy being young!”

“You don’t stop liking candy when you’re not a kid anymore, and not everyone stops liking child-like things,” said Kat, who reads Bolingbrook Patch, Joliet Patch and Orland Park Patch in Illinois. Trick-or-treaters of all ages are welcome at Kat’s house.

‘Give Someone Joy’

Bethany, who reads Frankfort Patch and Joliet Patch in Illinois, said it’s not all that unusual for adults to dress in costume with the rise in cosplay — that’s a portmanteau of “costume play,” an activity in which people wear costumes to represent a specific character, for example, an animal, cartoon character or historical figure.

“The point of giving out prizes and candy is to give someone joy. Age shouldn’t matter,” Bethany said. “My neighborhood tends to have some houses with ‘adult’ treats for parents or whoever is out trick-or-treating.”

Trick-or-treating has changed with the times and is no longer “exclusively a little kid thing,” Bethany said. “Plus, if everyone is out trick-or-treating, then the previously excluded age groups won’t be out playing ‘tricks.’ ”

Also, “there are people whose chronological age does not match their intellectual age,” she said. “For those playing gatekeeper around trick- or treating, they should consider those whose intellectual age is that of a child. Special needs adults should be warmly accepted when/if they trick or treat.”

Patch reader Melissa was among a handful of readers who emphasized Bethany’s last point. If an adult with Down syndrome shows up, for example, are you really going to refuse a candy bar?

“They are adult kids, so it should not matter who wants to trick or treat,” she said.

Toms River (New Jersey) Patch reader Krystal said trick or treat night isn’t the time to make judgments about who should or should not be ringing the doorbell. She, also, pointed to differences in chronological and intellectual age but also said going trick-or-treating may offer a night of fun in an otherwise rough life.

“You don’t know if the person has an unstable home,” Krystal said.

If It Means No TP-ing And Egging …

A fair amount of mischief and more serious behavior can occur on Halloween, and Lake Elsinore-Wildomar (California) Patch reader Korie is happy to open her door to kids of all ages if it keeps them out of trouble.

“If a child chooses to trick or treat instead of get drunk or do drugs, by all means [be welcoming],” Korie said, “It’s harmless and fun. Let them be kids while they can be.”

“There is no ‘too old’ age,” said Odenton-Severn (Maryland) Patch reader Kellie. “If they’re out having fun, they aren’t out causing trouble.”

“I’d rather teenagers and young adults ask for candy than get in trouble drinking and driving, etc.,” wrote Tara, a Ledyard (Connecticut) Patch reader. “Why should people stop dressing up and having fun with their community and kids?”

“I’d rather teens and twenty somethings go asking for candy rather than have them harassing other kids or vandalizing things,” said Jo, who reads Levittown (Pennsylvania) Patch and Hicksville (New York) Patch.

Peggy, who reads Nashua (New Hampshire) Patch, isn’t interested in trick-or-treating as an adult but said it’s a “wholesome activity” many people enjoy.

“Why shouldn’t teens and even adults do it if they enjoy it?” she questioned. “Better than other things they could be getting into.”

Erin, who reads Arlington (Virginia) Patch and Burlington (Massachusetts) Patch, was 18 when she last went trick-or-treating with her friends from church. But, she said, “I would much rather see teenagers and young adults trick-or-treating than TP-ing and throwing eggs at people’s houses.”

‘Let Kids Be Kids!’

“Who cares?” asked Katrina, who reads Limerick-Royersford-Spring City (Pennsylvania) Patch. “What is so terrible about dressing up and getting candy? There’s so much terrible stuff going on in the world, this shouldn’t even be on the radar.”

“Let kids be kids!” implored Tracy, a Toms River (New Jersey) Patch reader. “Let the high schooler forget about taking SATs, working her part-time job and writing that research paper for one night, and let her be a kid.

“Let that 30-year-old with special needs be a kid without judgment. Let the people (kids of all ages) just be kids and have a night to run around and have fun!”

Newport (Rhode Island) Patch reader Dana thinks anyone 21 or older is probably too old, but pointed out “our brains develop until ages 27-30ish.”

“Let these young adults enjoy what is left of their childhood,” Dana said.

Shouldn’t Kids Age Out, Though?

Other readers said there is a point when a kid ages out of trick-or-treating. They just didn’t agree on what that age is. A person who goes by “Butthole” stood alone among respondents in saying a 12-year-old trick-or-treater is long in the tooth.

Several readers said 18 is a good cut-off age, and a few others said that once kids enter high school, they should give up trick-or-treating.

P., who reads Beverly (Massachusetts) Patch, said that once kids become teenagers, they need to retire their candy buckets. “It’s for young kids,” P. said, adding that older kids “can still dress up and party, just not trick or treat.”

“You should quick trick-or-treating when you start high school,” said Joliet (Illinois) Patch reader Lynne. “Trick-or-treating should be for young children.”

Westborough (Massachusetts) Patch reader Johnny doesn’t think anyone should tell anyone else when they’re too old to trick or treat, but said “anyone over 14 should really be reined back by their parents.”

Patch reader Kara said the same. “Most kids will stop by that age anyway,” Kara said. “But I would hand out candy to anyone.”

East Hampton (New York) Patch reader Lisa said that by the time they’re 16, “kids are fully teenagers and should not be out trick-or-treating with younger kids.”

“Teenagers can be intimidating to both younger kids and to people handing out candy,” Lisa said.

Stillwater (Minnesota) Patch reader Tom said 17 is too old. “You can drive and buy your own candy,” he said.

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Long Islander Virginia, who reads Sachem Patch and Massapequa Patch, said kids over 18 should skip trick-or-treating.

“At that age, they are adults who can legally vote and drive and have graduated from high school,” Virginia said. “They are headed into the world of adulthood.”

Across New Hampshire Patch reader Beth is on the same page. “I don’t want to put an age cap on it,” Beth said, “but have to admit an adult at my door asking for candy would be a bit weird.”

Jennifer, a Temecula (California) Patch reader, said the trick-or-treat cutoff age should be 21.

“I think it’s just odd for someone old enough to drink to go to a stranger’s house to get candy, maybe because my generation stopped trick or treating when we reached high school,” Jennifer said.

Several readers said kids often decide for themselves when they’re too old.

“When you are done with high school, you are either off to college or working,” said Kay, a Limerick-Royersford-Spring City (Pennsylvania) Patch. “You’re past the prime of free treats from your neighbors and more likely to attend private parties.”

Grandma, a Palos (Illinois) Patch reader, thinks that by the time they’re 14 or 15, most kids are bored with trick-or-treating.

Buy Your Own Candy

Amy, who reads Bensalem Patch and Levittown Patch, both in Pennsylvania, is willing to give young adults grace to trick or treat until they’re out of college.

“By then, you hopefully have a job and can afford to just buy yourself candy,” Amy said. “And with any luck, you’ll soon be taking your own kids out trick-or-treating.”

Oak Lawn (Illinois) Patch reader Kitty feels the same. “By 23, you should be done with school and focusing on getting a full-time job,” Kitty said.

Stop trick-or-treating at 30, said Sue, a Simsbury (Connecticut) Patch reader said. “They should be handing out goodies at that age,” Sue said.

Medford (Massachusetts) Patch reader K.T. said that at 16, “dances and events are more fun,” and “it’s time to return the favor and switch to handing out the candy.”

No Costume, No Candy. And No Jerks.

In Pennsylvania, trick-or-treaters of any age are welcome at April’s house, but none of this skipping the costume nonsense.

“You get dressed up,” the Perkiomen Valley Patch reader said, “you get a treat.”
“If you’re still a kid at heart in a costume,” go for it, regardless of age, said Joliet (Illinois) Patch reader Christopher

“Let kids stay kids as long as possible,” said Across America Patch reader Christa. “Let them enjoy the tradition — and it keeps so many out of trouble. As long as they are behaving and respectful, let them go. It’s meant for all to enjoy.”

The problem is some kids are ungrateful jerks, said Patty, another Across America Patch reader.

“As long as they are dressed up and polite, I really don’t mind what age they are,” Patty said. “It’s the ones that are rude or try to grab handfuls or don’t wear costumes who shouldn’t be trick-or-treating.

“If they are willing to put in the time to do up a decent costume and walk around knocking on doors, and politely saying ‘trick or treat’ and ‘thank you’ and show genuine appreciation for what they get and don’t show up past [trick or treat hours], say 8:30, 9 o’clock at the very latest, I have no problem.”

Homewood-Flossmoor (Illinois) Patch reader Julie said for kids high school age or older, the end game is free candy, and they’re willing to skip the costumes and other trappings in their quest for it.

“Most kids by then don’t even bother dressing up, saying ‘trick or treat,’ let alone say ‘thank you,’” Julie said. “They just hold out a bag in regular clothes, then turn around and leave.”

About Block Talk

Block Talk is an exclusive Patch feature offering real-world advice from readers on how to resolve everyday neighborhood problems. If you have a neighborhood etiquette question or problem you’d like for us to consider, email, with Block Talk as the subject line.

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