UPDATE: (Oct. 22, 2019) After this story drew national attention in 2018, one city said it has not enforced the law in its more than 45 years of history. It also said that anyone smashing pumpkins, as an example, would draw police attention.
The City of Chesapeake released a statement to Wavy.com:
For example, a teenager trick or treating with siblings or friends will be fine. If that same teenager were found to be stealing pumpkins from porches and smashing them in the street, that would be a different matter and action would be taken.
The story from 2018 follows with some updated information.
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (KUTV) — Happy Halloween, but not if you are a teen.
In parts of Virginia, anyone 13 or older who goes trick-or-treating can be sent to jail for up to six months according to HRScene.com. And no matter what age, trick-or-treating after 8 p.m. can land you in the clink for up to 30 days. Fines range between $25 and $100.
While Chesapeake, Virginia's code is pretty strict, the city isn't alone.
In many areas, going door to door, ringing or knocking and expecting a treat for those over 12 is a criminal offense.
Newport allows the activity through seventh grade or at 12-years-old, but after that, anyone engaging in such behavior is guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor, the same as many communities in the area.
It also states: "no accompanying parent or guardian shall wear a mask of any type," perhaps in case they get tempted to trick or treat.
Portsmouth allows it from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., 12 and younger.
Halloween was on a Wednesday in 2018, leaving most trick-or-treaters of any age facing school the following day.
The holiday is said to originate with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. It involved bonfires and costumes to ward off ghosts or evil spirit. Pope Gregory III designated Nov. 1 as All Saints Day in 609 with the night before becoming All Hallows Eve or, Halloween.
According to History.com, New England didn't celebrate the holiday much with rigid Protestant views, but it was more common in Mayland and southern colonies.
It soon meshed with other communities and as new immigrants flooded the country, Americans began to dress in costumes and go door to door, asking for goodies. In the late 1800s, newspapers urged parents to take anything frightening or grotesque out of Halloween and soon it lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones.
By the 1950s, Halloween was a holiday celebrated mainly for the young. In Virginia, that means everyone younger than 13.
Chesapeake city code reads:
(a) If any person over the age of 12 years shall engage in the activity commonly known as “trick or treat” or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $25.00 nor more than $100.00 or by confinement in jail for not more than six months or both.
(b) If any person shall engage in the activity commonly known as “trick or treat” or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever after 8:00 p.m., he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $10.00 nor more than $100.00 or by confinement in jail for not more than 30 days or both.