Some Winfield residents are unhappy about the Winfield downtown trick or treat scheduled for next month being limited to children ages 12 and younger, even though the age restriction has been in place for a number of years.

The comments were in response to a post of the City of Winfield’s Facebook page about the downtown trick-or-treat, scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 30. During the annual event, which is sponsored by the Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce, children can trick-or-treat at participating businesses in downtown Winfield. This year, though, some changes have been made due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Candy will be given out in front of the buildings in order to prevent crowds of children from gathering at each store entrance. People handing out candy are required to wear masks and gloves, and must place the candy in each child’s bag, instead of allowing trick-or-treaters to help themselves.

Participation in the event has traditionally been limited to children ages 12 and younger. Press releases about the activity dating back to at least 2015 mention the age limit. 

The City of Winfield’s Facebook post said there are no restrictions on door-to-door trick-or-treating on Halloween night.

Most of the negative comments about the event had to do with the age restriction. Some posters said they have older children with developmental disabilities who won’t understand that they can’t participate. Others said older children who want to trick-or-treat instead of participate in more destructive activities should be encouraged to do so. A few people were unhappy that the event is the day before Halloween, a Friday, instead of on the actual holiday, which is a Saturday.

“All kids in this town have had a horrible year ... why in the world would you limit trick or treating to under 12 if an older kid wants to do it? It’s safer than anything else they could possibly do,” Andrea Jill Ball said.

“So I have an autistic son, this is his favorite holiday and he looks forward to this each year. He will be 15. He has three younger siblings that would like to trick or treat, but it’s unfair to him to not be able to participate. He doesn’t understand that he’s “too old” or that it’s ok for his siblings to do it but not him. This is just sad,” Aleashia Tanner said.

Other posters said that the age restriction has been in effect for a long time, and that no employees are going to check ages before giving out candy. Some people also said the age restriction only has to do with the downtown trick-or-treating event, and does not apply to the entire city.

“This is a Friday evening. It is for the stores downtown that belong to the Chamber of Commerce to participate. It is not done by the city. There are quite a few stores that are not open all day Saturday, so they would not even be there for a trick or treat Saturday. This is why the Friday works best for most of us,” Mary Prochaska said.

“I can’t think that any store would complain about a handicapped person participating no matter what their age. This particular event is catered towards younger children.”

The Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce said Thursday that a press release will be issued soon in response to the reaction, with updated information about the event.

The Arkansas City Rec Commission usually holds an indoor trick-or-treat event that has no stated age limit, rec center director Landon West said. The 2020 event was canceled earlier this year, however, because Halloween falls on what would have been Arkalalah weekend and the rec center is the site of a craft show connected to the festival. However, Arkalalah has also been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrew Lawson, a spokesperson for the City of Arkansas City, said he’s heard that some community members might host an outdoor trick-or-treat event in Arkansas City, but nothing has been finalized yet.

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