It’s common for towns to have Halloween curfews or regulate trick-or-treating, in fact, Bonnyville has had a curfew since the 1920’s. Yet, last year there was a huge outcry over the bylaw, which stipulates trick-or-treaters, under the age of 16, must be accompanied by an adult after 7:00 pm. This does not mean that trick-or-treating or Halloween must shut down at 7:00 pm, simply children under the age of 16 must be with an adult.
Mayor of Bonnyville, Gene Sobolewski, is baffled by the uproar this caused last year; mainly because trick-or-treating tends to naturally dwindle off around 7:00 pm regardless of the bylaw, “Halloween and trick-or-treating starts very early, like 5:00, the streets are full of kids for about two hours, till 7:00. That just happens to be the witching hour, everybody’s done their trick-or-treating, they’ve done the walking around, especially the little kids, and there’s generally not much activity after that.”
“That doesn’t mean if you work late and you want to take the kids out, you can’t. It just means if you’re under 16, you must be with an adult.”
The bylaw, which was adapted in 1929, is visited every year as Halloween approaches and every year Town Council puts a motion forward to maintain the bylaw. “It’s been enforced for so long, it’s multi-generational. The folks who are new to town, or haven’t been around for a long time, seem to have the most difficulty with it, yet you talk to residents who have been born and raised, and there isn’t an issue.”
Mayor Sobolewski explains it’s a community effort to ensure everyone is safe and there are no problems, “the RCMP, Fire Fighters, Pontiacs and volunteers they’re out watching. If there hadn’t been an issue in the past, we wouldn’t have all these groups out there doing that. They’re out monitoring to ensure mischief doesn’t occur.” This is a proactive approach to the holiday, explains the Mayor, “there are some communities where things have gotten out of control, and it costs the municipalities money to repair the damage done.”
Bonnyville is not the only community to have such a bylaw, the Town of St. Paul has a similar one; which until last year the curfew was 6:00 pm. Town Council amended the bylaw to hold trick-or-treating until 7:00 pm, due to Daylight Savings Time being held later in the year.
Mayor Andersen explains, much like Bonnyville, by 7:00 people are naturally off the streets, “we have the Haunted House later, so people are usually done.” That’s the secret element that keeps everyone happy, says the Mayor, “it’s the Safe & Sweet Halloween, all the businesses contribute. It’s held at the Rec Centre and there are games for the kids and a whole lot of fun for them to participate in.”
“We give them activities and choices, so people are pretty good with sticking to the times. We haven’t had an issue. The key to it all is give them something else and it’s never been an issue in St. Paul.” The Mayor says he went through the same curfews when his children were young, “I went through the same times, it was 4:00 – 6:00, when I had young kids. It’s way better for the parents if they want to take their kids out. Plus, now they get the other option of the Safe & Sweet Halloween if they don’t want to go door-to-door, and they get the Haunted House, as well.”