No Tricks, No Treats: Should Schools Ban Halloween?

Some schools across the country are skipping Halloween celebrations this year: Is that smart -- or scary?

Blame it on peanut allergies. Blame it on safety issues. Blame it on religion. Blame it on costumes. But, this year, some schools are telling children: No Halloween candy for you!

As reports, from Portland, Ore., to Pennsylvania, some schools are banning Halloween -- and it’s stirring up a witch’s brew of controversy.

Tracy Panzer, a spokesperson for a Pennsylvania school district, told The Sentinel, “We recognize that the chance to dress up allows students the opportunity to express individual creativity and imagination. Therefore, we provide dress-up opportunities throughout the year that are tied to instructional components of the classroom. Such opportunities for creative play include spirit days, Read Across America Week where children are encouraged to dress as one of their favorite Dr. Seuss characters, and Readers Theater, which is a literacy-based activity where children portray characters in a piece of literature.”

At another Pennsylvania school, parents were outraged by a letter sent home by the principal declaring that there would be no Halloween celebration at the school because some people feel the holiday has "religious overtones." The district ultimately responded by saying the school “will hold such a Fall Festival, with Halloween costume and activities, on the evening of October 18th.”

Still, this doesn’t sit too well with’s Nick Gillespie.

“What sort of lesson are we teaching our kids when we ban even a tiny, sugar-coated break in their daily grind (or, even worse, substitute a generic, Wicker Man-style ‘Fall Festival’ for Halloween)? Mostly that we are a society that is so scared of its own shadow that we can’t even enjoy ourselves anymore,” he writes. “We live in fear of what might be called the killjoy’s veto, where any complaint is enough to destroy even the least objectionable fun."

Now, we just don’t think Halloween would be Halloween without watching our elementary school children parade around the halls during their annual school party. But we also know parents whose children have never been allowed to wear costumes to school, and they just don’t think it’s a big deal -- there’s plenty of time for dressing up and trick-or-treating after school.

What do you think? Should schools ban Halloween? Or is that just too scary to even consider?

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