A Belated Dispatch in the War on Halloween

Bryan Alexander (a Reason contributor) describes the grinches who stole Halloween this year at his son's school:

Ripton, Vermont, has had all kinds of community-based Halloween festivities over the years, anchored on the school: hayrides, haunted houses, a spectacular haunted forest, spooky stories read out loud, costume parades, the works.

In which the Whoville School Board considers some liability issues.This year, however, the principal decided not to do anything for Halloween. No scary stories were read in the library, no costume parades were held, nothing staged after school on the school grounds. Moreover, kids were free to do what they wanted outside of school, but were forbidden to do anything Halloween-ish in school. For example, some children brought costumes on Friday, were told they couldn't wear them, and were probably as sad as you might imagine....

Following this decision's announcement in school, a protest started in the upper grades, as two 5/6ers started up a petition in favor of the banned holiday. This didn't get far, as either* their teacher or the school's principal chided them. Said authority figure described him or herself as "disappointed" in the activist children, and explained that petitions were "disrespectful."...

I wrote "announcement in school", because the school did not communicate this decision to parents or the larger community. No printed note, no email, nothing in a newsletter, no poster in the lobby, nothing.

After days of discussion and investigation, no answer is really available. No formal communication came from the school. Children were told that in-school celebrations were against federal law, then passed on this legal interpretation to parents. I've been promised a legal citation from the principal, and wait for it still.

As Alexander's post notes, the petition story may have gotten garbled: "The principal denies speaking to the kids, but some of the children insist it was her. No word from the teacher." But the authorities did definitely make the bizarre claim that Halloween celebrations are illegal. At a subsequent school board meeting, Alexander tells me, "The principal and district superintendent said there was a law, that it was federal - no, state - no federal - no, they couldn't name it. Actually, there were cases. Well, there were *guidelines*. And a book. And printouts. Principal actually left the meeting to go find a book to show me."

A report from the school board meeting is here.

Related reading: "Season of the Regulator" and "The Passion of the Pumpkin."

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    And the children learn the most valuable lesson they'll take away from that school.

  • ||

    Public school teachers and administrators are cowardly, lying scum? Because that's the lesson I got from it.

  • sarcasmic||

    The sooner the kids learn this the better off they will be.

  • ||

    Wouldn't that rule apply to most public administrators and bureaucrats ?
    The smaller the kingdom, the worse it gets.

  • ||

    I blame the wicca's who apparently object to the depiction of witches as ugly (and mean).
    I am all for the depiction of witches as sexy lesbians, but the skools won't permit that simple truth.

  • ||

    I am all for the depiction of witches as sexy lesbians, but the skools won't permit that simple truth.

    Fuck creationism. Fuck "Under God." THIS is why public schools are worthless.

  • SIV||

    As the First Amendment clearly states:
    "thus building a wall of separation between Church & State." You have no right to worship your syncretic Pumpkin-God in public school.

  • Post-Coital Rat||

    But the children will still be allowed their Krampus celebrations, right?

  • Tim||

    It's the Great Bumpkin, Charlie Brown.

  • ||

    You mean The Great Blumpkin, right? Please tell me you do.

  • The Gobbler||

    This is why I believe that the Urban Dictionary is written by fifth grade boys.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Nah, just people with too much fucking time on their hands.

  • ||

    As Halloween is a religious/secular/dietist day of worship of the pumpkin,ghost,scary moster and candy holiday of observation; I am not surprised that the Progressives have deemed it a non-day of observation as well.

  • Zeb||

    The only people I have ever heard of objecting to Halloween on religious grounds are conservative Christians of the sort that worries about satanism. I may be missing something, but I think you are jumping the gun here.

  • SIV||

    Is Ripton VT a hotbed of "conservative Christians"? Reading TFA it appears the school appealed to the authority of Federal and state law, "guidelines, "a book" and "printouts". Additionally they called the children's petition disrespectful. Sounds like progressives to me.

  • Federal And State Law||

    Don't pin this stupid shit on us.

  • Paul||

    You are right in general (see my post below), except that progressives have "adopted" the aversion to halloween in the overall goal of cultural sensitivity.

    My daughter's school religiously (ha!) avoids the word "Halloween" and now refers to everything as "Harvest party", etc.

    And my daughter's school is about as far from "conservative" as you can probably get.

  • The Gobbler||

    And yet they force the children worship and sing hymns to Obama.

  • Ray||

    Nah, the liberals like to dress up as Lady GaGa.

  • Nancy Pelosi||

    Sorry, kids. We had to pass the health care bill to find out that it canceled Halloween.

    Don't worry, though. We hope to have preliminary guidelines for Christmas drafted by February.

  • ||

    Ok.

  • Restoras||

    Why do the Wormers, Marmalards, and Neidermeyers always end up in positions of petty authority?

  • ||

    Who the fuck else would want it?

  • ||

    Because they, despite Animal House, tend not to abuse it as in this case where leftards, given authority, dismantle traditions that have brought the town much enjoyment over the years in favor of.......nothing. And then act self-righteous when called on it.

    While Wormer is demonized in Animal House, consider that the members of the fraternity were, in fact, failing academically, commiting criminal acts, and despite all our sympathies being directed at them, really a bunch of asshole frat-boys, the like of which are routinely demonized in other movies--consider Revenge of the Nerds in which the 'popular' frat has it's own Bluto(Ogre), takes part in numerous pranks similar to the Deltas own and yet are the villains.

    While the 'nerds', rule-obeying, geeky squares are the heroes.

  • ||

    What an incredibly insightful analysis of...Revenge of the Nerds? Wow.

  • ||

    Nerds love that movie as some kind of vindication for their sad lives.

  • Fearsomepirate||

    The first 17 years of a nerd's life are hell. It's how incredibly freaking awesome the next sixty years are that vindicates the first part.

  • Kristen||

    Seems that I escaped the worst of this crap in my public school days in the 80's. We had punkins and candy and pilgrims and injuns and kissmyarse trees and stockings and presents and valentines. It was kinda cool. And it was in Vermont.

  • KingTaco||

    In general, is Halloween even a kid-centered holiday anymore? Maybe my view is skewed from living in an East Coast big city, but over the last several years Halloween is basically seen/advertised as an adult 'sexy' party day.

    The kid angle has essentially disappeared. I'm most always down for parties where gals compete to where as little clothing as possible, but it's also kind of melancholy seeing how Halloween for kids is such a weak-ass endeavor as compared to when I was young.

  • Cyto||

    They make "sexy witch" and "sexy nurse" costumes in kids sizes too, so they can all join the fun!

  • pedophile||

    Count me in!

  • Mo||

    If you don't have kids/aren't a kid, why would you see the kid focused stuff? For me and my friends it was about drinking and going out, for my coworkers with kids, it was trick or treating and candy.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    The ball-n-chain and I have no kids, but focus on the kids anyway: gotta buy some snacks, carve a jack-o-lantern or two[*], pony up some kinda costume out of materials on hand and maybe one purpose bought prop, might want a little dry ice for atmosphere, and you must burst out of the door in the face yet another mass manufactured spider man[+] and send the kid tearing back down the driveway in a panic[=].


    [*] Use a dremel and you can do things that people with only an exacto knife can't fathom.
    [+] We're in a small rural town this year and I was gratified to see many homemade and jury rigged costumes. Reminds me of old times.
    [=] I do a pretty good scary, and I am impressed by the kids who hold it together at the door. But I'm really impressed by the one who, having bolted, suddenly discover a backbone halfway down the driveway. A couple of years ago I had a toddler litterally come to attention on the drive, turn like an automaton and march back like he was facing down hell itself. Gave him a double ration for his trouble.

  • ||

    Use a dremel

    FUCK. I didn't do the decorations thing this year, but now i think i have to go dremel-up a pumpkin.

  • Ted S.||

    pony up some kinda costume out of materials on hand and maybe one purpose bought prop,

    Go as Adam and Eve.

  • Zeb||

    There is still trick or treating and kids' stuff, but even in the small town where I live, parents are becoming so paranoid that it sucks a lot of the fun out of it. Where I was this year, trick or treating was over by the time it was even dark and most kids seemed to be escorted by parents.

  • Deman Llama||

    That's because it's all been reduced to boring, stupid crap like going to the parking lot of the local Whole Foods, wearing appropriately benign, non-violent, non-offensive, boring costumes, and "trick or treating" for organic carob bars, all while it's still light out, and of course, under the careful supervision of local law enforcement.

    It's been a long time since my house got egged by a bunch of rotten teenagers out for mischief in the true spirit of Halloween.

  • ||

    "There's a law, but we don't know what it says... Oh, wait, yes we do. It says, 'Shut the fuck up and do what I tell you, you little bastards!'"

  • ||

    Rule #1 of Made-up-Rules Club: don't quote the made-up rules.

  • ||

    Petitions are "disrespectful"? The principal needs to go back for remedial civics. Or sent to North Korea. He/She/It would be a natural there.

  • Mr Whipple||

  • Abdul||

    My prediction: principal did an in-service on constitutional law and education, got scared by the "bong Hits' or one of hte other cases, and totally freaked out.

  • Chlorophyllite||

    I'm confused. There isn't a law prohibiting something enjoyable? Methinks the principal should have said that it was not mandated.

  • ||

    The poor kids in the unincorporated parts of our parish had their trick or treating rained out last night. God Damn the preacher man. I'm starting a movement to get all of the kids to wear devil costumes next year.

  • Mr Whipple||

  • ||

    Must be outside of New Orleans.

  • ||

    Livingston Parish. Walker trick or treated on Saturday, Denham Springs on Sunday and the poor kids in the outskirts, not at all.

  • ||

    Why the different days?

  • ||

    Can't have all the niggers out on the streets at the same time?

  • ||

    God and LSU football. Sunday was only an option for civilized Denham Springs, where my wife took the girls. Since there was no LSU game Saturday, Walker opted for Saturday, but the Parish commission had already codified the Monday rule and wouldn't change it.

  • sarcasmic||

    Allowing kids to dress up is discriminatory against the economically disadvantaged.
    We don't want the less fortunate kids to feel bad about themselves.
    Anyone who disagrees hates poor children.
    Child hater!

  • Rich||

    "The principal and district superintendent said there was a law, that it was federal - no, state - no federal - no, they couldn't name it."

    I hear that *deeming* such a law to exist is sufficient.

  • ||

    It's like they are characters from Franz Kafka's The Trial...

  • ||

    What, that WASN'T a manual?

  • ||

    Halloween has been banned for years as a religious holiday in Loudoun County, Virginia public schools. This is amusing to me as a parent of toddlers who just trick-or-treated for the first time. My entire block was full of kids running amok, with adults hanging out in their driveways drinking and handing out candy. There was nothing religious about it.

  • ||

    Halloween has been banned for years as a religious holiday in Loudoun County, Virginia public schools. This is amusing to me as a parent of toddlers who just trick-or-treated for the first time. My entire block was full of kids running amok, with adults hanging out in their driveways drinking and handing out candy. There was nothing religious about it.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Halloween is a Pagan holiday. We can't have of kids worshiping Pagans.

  • kinnath||

    Samhain is a pagan holiday. Per standard practice, the Catholics stole the holiday and turned it into a Christian event -- All Hallow's Eve (All Saint's Eve). In modern America, it is now a marketing event -- All Hail the Mad Men! Huzzah!!

  • Jason||

    What does People Against Goodness And Normalcy have to do with Halloween?

  • The Gobbler||

    This is the worst bit of brainwashing in the entire piece:

    Said authority figure described him or herself as "disappointed" in the activist children, and explained that petitions were "disrespectful."...
  • Tim||

    One must wonder if this authority figure is a child of the 60's.

  • Deman Llama||

    I heart school administrators. I was reminded of a completely unrelated story about school administrators at my junior high school. We had an "election" for class officers in 8th grade. Three students ran for President. When the election was over, and the teachers announced who had won the election, no one in the class believed it- an unpopular, nerdy, teachers' pet student had won. People began discussing who they had voted for- most said they voted for one of the two good-looking, athletic, popular students who ran. No one wanted the student who "won" to be president of the class. So, I and some friends of mine organized a petition and gathered signatures because we wanted to see the official tally of votes- the actualy numbers- to ensure that the teachers and administrators hadn't just appointed the student they liked best out of the candidates. Needless to say, all of us who organized the petition got detention, and were basically told we were horrible, mean people, and we shouldn't do things like that, because it made the "elected" president feel bad, like no one liked her.

    I have never gotten over the suspicion that the election was rigged, and the teachers just picked who they wanted. That was my first taste of real democracy.

    Long live the Republic.

  • Zeb||

    I suspect that this decision was made, as often happens in schools and other bureaucracies, out of laziness and a misguided desire to avoid controversy. Why do something fun that might annoy a few wierdos when you can do the same mind numbing crap you do every day?

  • ||

    I don't think something like this would happen in my town, but if it did, I would make it my mission to get the principal or superintendent fired over this, no matter how good they may be on EVERY other issue. Heads must roll for shit like this just to remind everyone of the score.

  • Paul||

    Which is why when the Christians bitch about the War on Christmas, I always happily remind them that they fucking started it with their opposition to Halloween.

    I got liberals to the left of me conservatavies to the right,
    There I am,
    Stuck in the middle with you.

  • creech||

    I can see some school in Delaware banning Halloween as some sort of electioneering stunt for O'Donnell, but why Vermont? Maybe they are afraid she'll move to Rutland after she loses and take on Bernie next?

  • jtuf||

    Last week I ordered 100 kippahs with "Legalize Hats" printed on them. I'll keep y'all posted. Someone has to stand up for the rights of kids.

  • ||

    The plural is kippot.

  • ||

    if EVERYBODY smoked weed:
    Newt Gringwich: actually, I think that Pelosi chick is pretty hot and I hear she can handle a pipe (wink wink) very we...
    Pelosi chick: Chubby well off republican middle age white guys named Newt make me orgasm the best.
    Rush Limbaugh: Over all, Obama may be more of a limited gubermint guy than Bush.
    Keith Obermann: I am an idiot ... dude.

  • ||

    Garsh. The school did nothing, and didn't allow costumes.

    Sounds exactly like the way schools handled Halloween when I was a li'l burden on society, and for decades before that.

    Which sounds like the way it ought to be handled, seeing as the future taxpayers are there to learn how to read and write and shit, not throw costume parties.

    And get off my lawn!

  • ChrisO||

    We had Halloween dress-up days at my elementary school in the '70s. They didn't make a huge deal of it, but most kids wore costumes, and the teachers passed out candy.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Yep. Halloween (or the proceeding Friday) was "costume allowed" and some of the teachers and lunch ladies had candy

  • ChrisO||

    Good thing these public servants have tenure and huge pensions. Otherwise, they might feel pressure to do an adequate job.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement