The Law of Halloween

New Jersey Executive Order 105 (Oct. 31, 2012):

NOW, THEREFORE, I, CHRIS CHRISTIE, Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDER and DIRECT:

1. Celebrations of Halloween scheduled for October 31, 2012 in all parts of New Jersey shall be held on Monday, November 5, 2012.

Is this a law? I doubt the state police will arrest you for trick-or-treating on the wrong day. But I also suspect that trick-or-treating will go forward on the 5th. Score a point for the coordination function of law. But … if all that Chris Christie is doing is suggesting to the parents and children of New Jersey a common date for their costume- and candy-related decisions, why did he need to “ORDER and DIRECT” that Halloween be postponed? Perhaps this law’s effectiveness depends on its claim to be authoritative rather than the actual authority backing it up.

If there is a local anti-mask law, this may provide a defense.

Was wondering about this yesterday morning too. Seems to me like the state overstepping the bounds of its authority in some ways. Re Oct 31, yes, you can say “no Halloween” (meaning “no mass wandering of kids on the street at night”) as the state — that’s a public safety issue potentially. (Not saying it really is in all cases, but as a matter of bright line rules and executive authority, okay — not so different from saying there’s a curfew and ordering an evacuation of shore zones.)

But rescheduling an unofficial holiday for a new date? No, that’s just weird — Christie doesn’t get to reschedule Halloween. However, like you said, to the extent Nov 5 is the suggested new date, that solves coordination problems, so maybe it’s not all bad for Christie to suggest everyone go with next Monday.

Well, Maplewood has fallen into line, moving Halloween to Monday too:

This is a wonderful example of governmental apparatus enforcing social practice. Somebody had to do it, it was clear we couldn’t do Halloween on oct 31.

Sometimes law is irrelevant! Or at least, the governor can exert power as it isn’t illegal.

For what it’s worth, I saw some high school kids trick or treating on oct 31. I’m sure they got a second night in on Nov 5.