Scraping through a few hundred municipal codes in Illinois didn’t turn up any trick-or-treat ordinances allowing for jail time. But fines associated with age limits, curfews, masks and more were plentiful.

As my wife Amy was carrying approximately 86 pounds of candy into the house the other day ("We've got to get ready, Halloween will be here in...uh, weeks!"), I remembered that a story about rules governing trick-or-treating in Roanoke, Virginia went viral a couple of years back. In Roanoke, kids over the age of 12 who go trick-or-treating are technically guilty of a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to six months in jail.

Pretty harsh, right? I don't know that Roanoke is still cracking down on those rogue 13 and 14 year olds, but I recall there were some upset parents in the mix.

Here in Illinois, we don't have anything on the books that features jail-time for violating a local Halloween ordinance, but as Austin Berg of Illinois Policy found in his research, there are some violations that can cost you some money.

  • Belleville appears to be home to the strictest such laws in the state. In the Metro East city, it’s illegal to trick-or-treat beyond the eighth grade. Violation of that rule is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. That’s a lot to pay for a little candy.
  • And that’s not all. If you’re a Belleville resident over the age of 12 and would like to wear a mask in public on any day other than Halloween, you need to secure permission from the mayor or the chief of police. Without approval from one of the head pumpkins, you’re as guilty as the criminal high-school freshmen asking neighbors for a Payday candy bar.
  • Forsyth, outside Decatur, has one of the most unique and harsh restrictions in the state. Those trick-or-treating in the Macon County village should beware: Police can slap you with a fine of up to $750 if you “approach” a house that doesn’t have its porch light on.
  • Halloween-specific curfews enshrined in law pop up all over the state: From Chicago suburbs such as Orland Park (7 p.m., and a maximum $200 fine for a violation) and Palos Heights (7 p.m., $200 maximum); to central Illinois’ Oakwood (8:30 p.m., $500 maximum); to southern Illinois’ Maryville (9 p.m., $750 maximum).

Austin Berg points out in his piece "These Illinois Halloween Laws Might Scare You" that there are some cooler heads out there when it comes to Halloween legislation:

Thankfully, many communities don’t turn to special ordinances to enforce Halloween decorum. Officials instead issue safety tips, which can include recommended hours, costumes and more.

Village trustees in Carpentersville took a hands-off approach back in 2000 and left the holiday to parental discretion.

Trustee Judy Sigwalt was strongly opposed to the regulations. “I personally think safety precautions are a good thing, but whether they’re all going to abide by them or not comes from the individual parent; that comes from the home,” she told the Chicago Tribune at the time.

Sigwalt was on the right path. There are plenty of local rules already on the books to prevent harassment, loitering, soliciting, destruction of property and more.


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