For those who know exactly what it’s like to be bothered and hassled by the ‘trickers’ on Halloween, they sometimes wish there were 24-hour neighborhood patrols to catch ‘em in the act. Toilet paper in the trees, soaped windows, and bags of poop on the porch aren’t things you want to wake up to in the morning.

Back in the 1940s the trickeries got so bad and frequent in Traverse City, that authorities actually banned Halloween…..but first:

Sometime around the 1890s, and for a number of decades, Traverse City organizations welcomed the annual holiday trickery and even programmed their own “pranks and tricks appropriate to the occasion” with “old-time games and fun”. For a few cents, you could join in the fun and the money would help support the Sunday School Library.

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In November 1898, a local paper, the Record-Eagle, reported some Halloween tricks that went too far:
1) In Muskegon, an old man shot and killed a 15-year old boy who, with friends, mercilessly taunted and teased him.
2) Forty tombstones were destroyed in a graveyard.
3) Delinquents stole a blanket out of a lady’s buggy.
4) In Toledo, a woman “was so badly frightened by a crowd of boys playing Halloween pranks that she died.”

Halloween Tricks – some tame, some extreme – carried on in Traverse City for decades…..and then, along came the 1940s.

The Traverse City Chief of Police, Charles Woodrow, went so far as calling Halloween pranks a “racket” and “a nuisance to homeowners. I know of no other city that puts up with such foolishness”. Thanks to the older boys, the tricking got way out of hand. If they weren’t satisfied with what a resident was handing out for treats, they would throw it on the ground and call them names like ‘cheapskate’ among other less-savory words. Some even said to “forget the treat, just give us money”. After being reported in the local paper, a ban on Trick or Treating was finally enacted in the mid-1940s.

However, they backtracked a little and said ‘okay, kids 5-7 could trick or treat for a couple of hours’.  In 1946 the chief stated “We will not interfere with the fun of boys and girls who are behaving properly in their Halloween celebrations.” That must not have turned out so great, for in 1947 the chief stated ‘emphatically’, that there would absolutely be NO trick or treating that year.

But they also knew the trickery would still occur, asking to tone down the pranks.
That works.

Realizing they were fighting a losing battle, by 1950 authorities gave up on bans and said they would “tolerate it to a certain degree”.

With attention to general store sales around Halloween of the late 1940s and early 1950s, it was noticed that the sales of both candy AND bars of soap rose significantly.

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