Halloween Overkill CARROLL COUNTY

October 27, 1992

Let's see if we have this right. The public must be protected from little children dressed in costumes who go out one night a year to collect candy and treats from neighbors and strangers. Dressed as hobgoblins, ghosts, Mutant Ninja Turtles, fairies and princesses, these little people represent such a threat to public safety and tranquillity that they have been banned from going house to house to collect candy on Halloween in New Windsor, Manchester and Taneytown.

The problem with this solution is that the children are being punished for the boorish and self-centered behavior of adults. There may be any number of rationales for banning trick-or-treating. Some of the more popular ones are: The town is protecting children from receiving treats containing pins and razor blades; children will bother people who don't want to give candy to kids; or hordes of out-of-town kids will descend like locusts and strip the town of its sweets.

What nonsense. Incidents of candy tampering are few and far between, and if parents are concerned about foreign objects in candy, Carroll County General Hospital maintains a standing offer to X-ray all goodies. (Just remember that X-rays don't detect glass or poison). People who don't want to be bothered with trick-or-treaters can leave their porch lights off. As for the mass influx of out-of-towners, the fears seem to be exaggerated. If all the county's towns allowed trick-or-treating, there wouldn't be a mass migration of kids to towns that allow it. And besides, if uou run out of candy, just turn off the porch light.

These towns say they celebrate Halloween with parades and parties. They should ask some children -- or adults who used to be kids -- whether these are adequate substitutes for trick-or-treating. One of the delights of childhood is to dress up on Halloween, meet up with a couple of your best friends and visit the houses in your neighborhood. This is the kind of activity that binds a community, not splits it apart. Just ask the residents of Union Bridge, who reinstated trick-or-treating last year.

For kids in the towns that ban trick-or-treating, they might want to dress up like ogres and costume themselves as if they were members of the town councils who persist in banning this harmless seasonal activity.

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