As Halloween approaches, children of all ages are preparing their masks and capes to go trick-or-treating.
But before heading out the door to collect candy, there are rules and regulations you need to be familiar with.
In the state of Virginia, children ages 15 and younger can wear costumes with masks but state code prohibits anyone older than 16 wearing items that conceal their identity, said Maj. Greg Riley, a now-retired Williamsburg Police spokesman.
When out scouting for candy, police want to make sure children and their chaperones are safe and have a few tips to do so:
- Go trick-or-treating with an adult.
- Wear costumes that allow for adequate vision and hearing.
- Costumes should fit well to prevent tripping or falling.
- Wear flame-retardant costumes.
- Walk facing traffic and pay attention for cars.
- Only cross on street corners, never in the middle of the block.
- Wear brightly colored clothing, such as glow-in-the-dark patches, so vehicles have greater visibility.
- Bring a flashlight.
- Only approach houses that have porch lights turned on.
- Only eat candy after it has been inspected by an adult.
- Don’t eat candy that has already been opened.
In Williamsburg, York County and James City County, trick-or-treating hours are between 6-8 p.m. on Halloween for children 12 and younger.
“We will address any complaints we receive regarding trick-or-treaters who may be ‘too old’ but we do not actively monitor the ages of children participating in Halloween activities,” Riley said.
The exception: Anyone who appears older than 16 cannot wear a mask.
In York County, officers do not directly ask children their ages or write tickets to those who stay out past 8 p.m., said Shelly Ward, spokeswoman for the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office.
In James City County, officers will not enforce violations to times and ages unless there are other factors involved, said Stephanie Williams, JCC Police spokeswoman.
Ward said for the most part, these are suggested regulations to ensure safety. While officers won’t be heavily enforcing the rules, they will be patrolling neighborhoods.
“We want the children to stay safe and have a great time,” Ward said.
Editor’s note: This story originally published in 2018. The title of Maj. Riley has been changed to reflect his retirement this year.