The weirdest Halloween laws in the country

FYI, adorable baby, you're not allowed to wear aviator sunglasses with that costume

Trick-or-treaters in that town need a permit to wear a mask. The code strictly states: “No person shall wear a mask or disguise on a public street without a permit from the sheriff,” according to Idiot Laws. So before you can even plan a costume, you have to plan a visit to the police precinct.

In Belleville, Missouri, you can’t even trick-or-treat if you’re in high school. The mayor of the county signed an ordinance banning kids past eight grade from asking for candy. “We were hearing more and more about bigger kids knocking on doors after 9 at night, and the people who lived in the homes were scared,” the Mayor told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  “We believe that Halloween is for little children.”

Several townships in Virginia agree, banning kids over 12 from participating in the sweet-treat soliciting.

In several towns in Oklahoma, celebrating Halloween on October 30, is encouraged this year.
Oklahoma City, Edmond, Midwest City and Yukon are all making the official day this Saturday, instead of Sunday, a school night. “We felt it was more convenient for families to do it on Saturday, and it only meant moving it one day earlier,” one local Sheriff told The Oklahoman.

In Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Sundays are off limits for trick-or-treaters too. “If October 31 shall be a Sunday, such going from door to door and house to house for treats shall take place on the evening of October 30 between the hours of 6:00 p.m., prevailing time, and 8:00 p.m., prevailing time.” That last part, the 6 to 8 window of trick-or-treating, however, is upheld every year. After 8pm, the candy-thon stops, by law.

Halloween celebrations during school hours was banned in a Seattle suburb in 2004 as well as in Los Altos, California in 1995. Both grew out of religious sensitivity. In California, it was out of respect for Christian Fundamentalists. In Washington, it was on behalf of Wiccans who were tired of the negative portrayal of witches.

Don’t expect to see any Grim Reaper or Blues Brothers costumes in Dublin, Georgia. It’s against the law to wear hoods or sunglasses. A law states: “It shall be unlawful for any person to be and appear on any of the public streets of the city or in any of the public places of the city wearing a mask, hood or other apparel or regalia in such manner as to conceal his identity, or in such manner that his face is not fully visible, or in such manner that he may not be recognized.” Thankfully, kids under 16 aren’t subject to the rule.

And Marie Antoinette is off the table in Merryville, Missouri, where women are banned from wearing corsets. The age old law is designed to prevent women from denying men “the privilege of admiring the curvaceous, unencumbered body of a young woman should not be denied to the normal, red-blooded American male.” But men are subject to some laws too. Like no goofy mustaches that make people laugh in Alabama churches. And male staff-members of the Nevada Legislature are banned from wearing penis costumes while the legislature is in session. There’s got to be a back-story behind that one.

Teenagers who trick-or-treat in some cities could face something more threatening than any costumed zombie or ghost — like the long arm of the law.

Some cities across the country have adopted age limits — usually around 12 — for those who can travel door-to-door for candy and other Halloween fare. But while teen violators could face jail or fines up to $100, such laws are rarely strictly enforced.

Take Mayor Mark Eckert of Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. He led a push in 2008 to ban trick or treating by high school-aged teens in that community of about 35,000 people.

His reasoning? He said he heard from too many single mothers and senior citizens complaining they were frightened by “6-foot-tall kids” showing up at their homes in search of candy.

“When I was a kid my father said to me, ‘You’re too damn big to be going trick-or-treating. You’re done,” Eckert said. “When that doesn’t happen, then that’s reason for the city governments to intervene.”

Some Belleville residents have complained about the ordinance, he said. But he added that he hears more often from those thankful for the age limit. The ordinance also prohibits those over 12 years old from wearing masks in public any other day of the year.

In Virginia, several cities have had trick-or-treating age limits on the books since the 1970s. City officials from Meridian, Miss., to Bishopville, S.C., and Boonsboro, Md., have cut off the trick-or-treat age at 12.

Still, officials cannot recall anyone ever being arrested or fined for being too old to trick-or-treat.

If anything, officers will let teens off with a warning or a call to their parents, said Lou Thurston, spokesman for the Newport News Police Department in Virginia.

“It’s not like we have officers that are patrolling the neighborhoods saying ‘How old are you?’ That’s not the point,” Thurston said. “The point is making the place safe.”

Even if they wanted to, officials acknowledge the laws are difficult to enforce. Still, they say putting the word out about the laws every year keeps too many teens from violating the bans.

There’s no way to know exactly how many cities have such ordinances. The National League of Cities doesn’t keep track of ordinances, and states have left such matters up to the localities.

Trick-or-treating evolved out of the late medieval custom of children asking for treats in exchange for praying for the dead of the household, said Hans Broedel, a University of North Dakota history professor and expert on early traditions.

Tricks — usually vandalism and other debauchery by teens and young adults — were a big part of Halloween for a time until a conscious effort in the 19th and early 20th centuries to shift the celebration toward children, Broedel said.

Excluding teens from trick-or-treating could make it more appealing to do other, less desirable, things, he said.

“Trick-or-treating in a large part is embraced in this country because it serves to cut down on teenage vandalism,” Broedel said. “Certainly telling teenagers they can’t go trick-or-treating isn’t going to stop them from going out on Halloween and doing whatever.”

John Womeldorf, a real estate agent in James City County, Va., has two sons ages 12 and 11. He said his 12-year-old is bummed that this will be his last year to trick-or-treat, but he looks forward to scaring kids who come for candy next year.

Womeldorf said he doesn’t remember any such rules as a kid but see why they might be necessary now.

“It is a different world than I grew up in so I guess we do have to have certain things like that in place to be enforced if needed,” he said.

Still, Alisa Alexander Goetz of Jordan, Minn., questions why such restrictions are needed. Kids grow up too fast, she said, so why not let them continue the tradition?

Of trick or treating, she said, “It’s better than them out drinking or getting into trouble.”

A Few Strange U.S. Laws

[excerpted from Net newsgroup post 2/96 and other sources – Note: The accuracy of these purported laws is questionable. Also, since the official Library position is that all sex should be outlawed – unless our beloved Head Librarian Ralf is a participant – we urge all patrons to use all means at their disposal to have the laws below enacted in their localities. – Staff]

— In Bakersfield, California, anyone having intercourse with Satan must use a condom. (An asbestos one we presume.)

— In Oblong, Illinois, it’s punishable by law to make love while hunting or fishing on your wedding day.

— In Minnesota, it is illegal for any man to have sexual intercourse with a live fish. (Apparently it’s OK for woman.)

— No man is allowed to make love to his wife with the smell of garlic, onions, or sardines on his breath in Alexandria, Minnesota. If his wife so requests, law mandates that he must brush his teeth.

— Warn your hubby that after lovemaking in Ames, Iowa, he isn’t allowed to take more than three gulps of beer while lying in bed with you — or holding you in his arms.

— Bozeman, Montana, has a law that bans all sexual activity between members of the opposite sex in the front yard of a home after sundown — if they’re nude.

— In hotels in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, every room is required to have twin beds. And the beds must always be a minimum of two feet apart when a couple rents a room for only one night. And it’s illegal to make love on the floor between the beds!

— The owner of every hotel in Hastings, Nebraska, is required to provide each guest with a clean and pressed nightshirt. No couple, even if they are married, may sleep together in the nude. Nor may they have sex unless they are wearing one of these clean, white cotton nightshirts.

— An ordinance in Newcastle, Wyoming, specifically bans couples from having sex while standing inside a store’s walk-in meat freezer!

— A state law in Illinois mandates that all bachelors should be called master, not mister, when addressed by their female counterparts.

— In Romboch, Virginia, it is illegal to engage in sexual activity with the lights on.

— In Merryville, Missouri, women are prohibited from wearing corsets because “the privilege of admiring the curvaceous, unencumbered body of a young woman should not be denied to the normal, red-blooded American male.”

— It’s safe to make love while parked in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Police officers aren’t allowed to walk up and knock on the window. Any suspicious officer who thinks that sex is taking place must drive up from behind, honk his horn three times and wait approximately two minutes before getting out of his car to investigate.

— A law in Helena, Montana, mandates that a woman can’t dance on a table in a saloon or bar unless she has on at least three pounds, two ounces of clothing. (Ouch! These pasties hurt!)

— Anywhere in the U.S., it’s illegal to use any live endangered species, excepting insects, in public or private sexual displays, shows or exhibits depicting cross-species sex. (Insectophiles apparently were successful in their lobbying efforts.)

— Lovers in Liberty Corner, New Jersey, should avoid satisfying their lustful urges in a parked car. If the horn accidentally sounds while they are frolicking behind the wheel, the couple can face a jail term.

— In Carlsbad, New Mexico, it’s legal for couples to have sex in a parked vehicle during their lunch break from work, as long as the car or van has drawn curtains to stop strangers from peeking in.

— Women aren’t allowed to wear patent-leather shoes in Cleveland, Ohio – a man might see the reflection of something “he oughtn’t!”

— No woman may have sex with a man while riding in an ambulance within the boundaries of Tremonton, Utah. If caught, the woman can be charged with a sexual misdemeanor and “her name is to be published in the local newspaper.” The man isn’t charged nor is his name revealed.

— It is illegal for any member of the Nevada Legislature to conduct official business wearing a penis costume while the legislature is in session.

Posted in Holidays, Law, Off Topic.

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