Safety, etiquette rules keep trick-or-treating fun

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

Halloween is one of those holidays to love or hate, and it’s one of those holidays with a few rules of etiquette for those wanting to celebrate and those who’d rather skip.

For adults wanting to join in the fun, leaving on the porch light lets trick-or-treaters know they’re open for business — that of handing out candy. And trick-or-treaters should take no more than one piece of candy and be polite about it. Saying please and thank you are a must.

The Emily Post Institute has a few manners guidelines for trick-or-treaters, and locally, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO), which patrols the town of Berthoud, has tips for keeping the holidays safe and fun.

“One of the things is, they should be visible,” said Sgt. Jim Anderson of the LCSO, recommending trick-or-treaters wear something reflective on their costumes or carry a flashlight. “The younger ones should definitely have their parents with them.”

According to the Emily Post Institute, with input from a few other websites, trick-or-treaters and those giving out the goods should follow five basic manner guidelines.

  • One piece of candy or treat from each household is the general rule, and be sure to say thank you and don’t ask for something else or another piece. Also, make one stop per house and don’t be a repeat customer. Those passing out the candy can hand over the piece instead of offering the entire bowl for children to grab and go.
  • Costumes can include ghoulish makeup and army fatigues, but leave home the toy guns and bustier. And be sure to wear a costume.
  • Turn off the porch lights if you run out of candy or do not want to participate in the holiday, and to deter late-night visitors, shut down at 9 p.m. Lights out is the universal signal to skip your house. In Berthoud most trick-or treaters finish by 8 or 9 p.m., particularly on a school night — this year, Halloween falls on a Tuesday.
  • Parents can take their children to other neighborhoods if their own isn’t kid-friendly or there aren’t many places to stop.
  • But don’t leave children in an unfamiliar area where you don’t know anyone or have not been invited, which can be considered impolite or even dangerous.

For those giving out the treats, candy should be purchased in enough quantity for the neighborhood, according to The Spruce, a website that offers household tips, in an article entitled, “Halloween Etiquette Tips for Parents.” The article recommends having enough candy to provide one piece per child and adding an extra bag just in case, though more than one piece can be given out. Make sure the candy is wrapped and sealed, and be sure to give out candy, not practical things like pencils or toothbrushes, or expect to get some sad faces.

To avoid children throwing away wrappers from the candy, put a small trash can next to the front stoop, but if you get TP’d or worse, call law enforcement to help prevent other houses from getting hit, according to an article in “Real Simple” magazine about Halloween etiquette, “How Do I Deal with Poor Etiquette on Halloween?”

Keeping the environment safe is another consideration The Spruce recommends for the holiday, such as removing obstacles from sidewalks and walkways that can cause tripping. For those things that cannot be removed, such as sprinkler heads, make sure they are visible or are marked.

Trick-or-treaters are advised to be respectful of their neighbors’ properties and to avoid treading through lawns and to use the sidewalk instead, according to The Spruce.

As an additional safety measure, parents should check their children’s costumes for rips or ragged hems that can be tripped over and make sure their views aren’t obstructed by hats or head coverings. Another safety measure is to have the children travel in groups and avoid houses that seem suspicious or cause discomfort.

The Town of Berthoud does not have specific policies for trick-or-treaters on Halloween but does set curfew at 11 p.m. for weeknights and at midnight on Friday and Saturday.

“The older kids shouldn’t even trick or treat,” Anderson said, adding the top age should be 14 or 15. “Trick-or-treating is for younger kids.”

Each year the sheriff’s office responds to Halloween-related complaints. TPing, egging and pumpkin smashing are misdemeanor offenses the sheriff’s office has responded to during past Halloweens, Anderson said. Other behaviors that occur but are not considered a crime include ding-dong ditching and taking candy from young children. “There’s not a lot, but it happens,” adding, as for as noise violations, “We don’t usually have any really big issues.”

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