Ahead of Halloween, here are trick-or-treating rules for Hampton Roads cities

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Just 29 more days!

"The kids get all dressed up; they're all excited," Chesapeake resident Mark Budd said.

That excitement he’s talking about is when kids get to dress up as their favorite superheroes or princesses for a spooky night of ghosts and goblins.

"Last year, they had like 40-some kids come by. It’s just a good time for everyone," he said.

A good time that put Chesapeake in the national spotlight last year thanks to a decades-old ordinance. According to the ordinance, anyone over the age of 12 trick-or-treating could face a fine or end up in jail.

"It was actually created in 1970 in all of the Hampton Roads cities out of an incident that involved some kids throwing firecrackers," Heath Covey, the city’s director of public communications, explained.

But in Chesapeake, and most other cites we've spoken with, police have never jailed or filed charges against anyone trick-or-treating Halloween night.

"It's really only there to allow the police the ability to keep order if they need to," Covey said.

Earlier this year, Chesapeake City Council voted to remove the penalty of jail time from their ordinance and raise the maximum age from 12 to 14.

"Realistically, we are not going to bother a 16-year-old, a 17-year-old if they're not creating any sort of an issue," Covey explained.

An issue like running up on porches and smashing pumpkins.

Instead, the city wants everyone to come out for a night of safe family fun. Trick-or-treating is 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for most Hampton Roads cities.

Here are rules for the holiday from each of the seven cities:

Virginia Beach

Trick-or-treating in Virginia Beach begins at dusk and ends at 8 p.m. If you are passing out treats, please turn your porch light on so children will know they are welcome. If you aren't, please turn your porch light off from 6-8 p.m. Click here for safety tips.

Chesapeake

Trick-or-treating is from 6-8 p.m. 'Porch light rule' is to be considered. Children of all ages are welcome to participate. Police will be out patrolling neighborhoods to keep children safe as they walk along the street.

Portsmouth

The Portsmouth Police Department would like to encourage trick-or-treaters to walk safely, be sure to cross the street at the corners using all crosswalks and traffic signals.  It is also a good idea to walk on sidewalks when they are available and take direct routes with the fewest street crossings.  While trick or treating, please elect not to use your cellular phones and other electronic devices. Not using these devices will allow you for focus on vehicle traffic and other potential road hazards.

Having reflective costumes or carrying glow sticks and or flashlights is an extremely helpful way to be visible to drivers. Choosing face paint over masks increases the visibility of trick-or-treaters.

Drivers should slow down in residential areas, taking extra time to look for excited trick-or-treaters.  It is also helpful to take extra time at intersections, curbs and medians.

Norfolk

Trick-or-treating starts at sundown and ends at 8 p.m.

Hampton

The City of Hampton released the following statement:

The City of Hampton’s ordinance on Trick-or-Treating activities was adopted in 1964 and since that time, the city has no record of anyone being fined or arrested for violation of this.  As with most ordinances, officers have discretion as to whether or not they will enforce such laws.

To automatically assume that “the Hampton Police WILL fine and/or jail anyone over the age of 12 who is Trick-or-Treating on Halloween” is simply just not accurate.  Hampton Police Officers WILL NOT be out on Halloween targeting teens whom appear to be participating in Trick-or-Treating activities.

Our function and primary goal and responsibility this Halloween is to provide a safe and fun environment for all of the children and individuals that are out and have hose to participate in the activities this evening.  Trick-or-Treating activities in the City of Hampton will officially kick off at dusk (about 6:36 p.m.) and will conclude at 8 pm.

Newport News

The City of Newport News released the following statement:

We want everyone to have a safe and fun night trick-or-treating in Newport News.  Our police officers do not go out looking for children violating the age limit. In fact, the code has been in place since at least 1976, and we have never charged anyone for violating it. The code also does not prohibit older children from accompanying younger ones as they trick-or-treat.  Also, the Newport News Police Department will conduct regular patrols throughout neighborhoods to ensure the safety and well being of our trick-or-treaters.

Suffolk

Halloween can be a fun and magical night for youngsters when they get to dress up and go trick-or-treating. The City of Suffolk wants everyone to have an enjoyable and safe time out and about on October 31. We remind you that trick-or-treating is for those ages 12 and under and that trick-or-treating in Suffolk ends at 8:00 p.m. by City Code.

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