Oct 30, 2019

The dying trend of trick-or-treating

A picture of trick or treaters.
Photo: Elva Etienne/Getty Images

Kids and their parents are abandoning traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating for alternative Halloween events.

The big picture: Local news outlets report that residents are seeing dwindling numbers of trick-or-treaters than once turned out. Centralized events are favored, and families have turned away from accompanying small coveys of Batmen, princesses, Darth Vaders and pirates of all ages as they roam the streets in search of sweet treats.

  • The Pontiac Daily Leader in 2017 noted that residents reported declining trick-or-treaters, parents saw fewer children participating, and many households left their porch lights off to discourage visitors.
  • The Arizona Republic reported that for some citizens, 10 trick-or-treaters could be an overestimate.
  • Moreover, many cities have begun to set "official" hours that parents and children can trick or treat. Some cities have also set age limits to the pre-teen years for trick-or-treating.

Between the lines: Technology has helped parents find increasingly popular alternatives to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, including events like "trunk-or-treats" or community Halloween celebrations.

  • These kinds of events work well in rural communities, where going door to door often taxes both kids and parents.
  • Moreover, less connectivity between suburban neighbors eases the social pressure to make an appearance in community affairs.
  • A wide array of events, rather than staking the holiday on one night alone, which can often fall during the middle of the week, affords some flexibility for stretched-thin parents.

Our thought bubble: "Compared to previous generations, today's parents tend to be less comfortable letting their kids roam unsupervised after dark, instead preferring community or school gatherings in more controlled settings," Axios' cities correspondent Kim Hart notes.

Yes, but: In many towns, a few neighborhoods known for being safe and festive attract trick-or-treaters from surrounding areas. That can leave some parts of town devoid of costumed kids.

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