When should Halloween be celebrated?

Confusion over the question consumes some communities during the final weeks of October — but the Utah Senate decided lawmakers wouldn’t be settling the debate.

A resolution that would encourage schools and the workplace to celebrate Halloween on the last Friday of October failed in the Senate with a vote of 16-9 on Friday.

Through puns and passion, a debate broke out on the floor of the Senate over SCR5. The prevailing side argued Utahns — not the Legislature — should decide for themselves when their children should trick-or-treat.

“Halloween emerged by itself, and ... there’s no regulation about when trick-or-treating starts, but communities figure this out,” Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, said.

Trial and error informs the community about what works and what doesn’t, he said

“This emergent order that just spontaneously happens in society is only possible when people are free from government control,” Fillmore said, “Halloween as it currently exists is an American achievement, and we should protect it by keeping our grubby mitts off it.”

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Noting he was born on Oct. 30, Fillmore said he often spends his birthday night handing out candy to trick-or-treaters instead of “spending (the) night at Red Iguana” when Halloween falls on a Sunday.

Fillmore understands how inconvenient the Halloween celebration can be. Even so, he said he doesn’t think the government needs to regulate the celebration of a holiday.

Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-Sandy, the sponsor of the bill, said celebrating Halloween on the last Friday in October is beneficial for several reasons.

For schools, he said, it would allow a long weekend for students and teachers, no longer interrupting the school week for a sugar-filled night out. For employees, it would allow a similar three-day weekend and “can lead to increased productivity and morale” in the workplace.

But several legislators questioned the execution of the bill.

Senate Majority Whip Ann Millner, R-Ogden, had concerns about religious observances. Some may not celebrate the holiday on the last Friday of the month because it falls on the same day as the Christian observance of the Feast of All Saints.

Cullimore said he planned to amend the resolution so Halloween is celebrated on the last Saturday instead of Friday to accommodate for religious conflict.

Sen. Stephanie Pitcher, D-Salt Lake City, expressed the confusion and “hectic endeavor” parents will go through when celebrating Halloween if the resolution passes, even with the resolution. Three days of celebration, she said, is a lot.

“For that reason,” she said, “I’m going to be a boo on two,” meaning she was voting no on the Senate’s second reading.

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Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, joined in on the puns.

“I’m hearing all the Snickers’” he said, “I’ve just never heard a more frightening debate on the floor of this chamber.”

Cullimore defended his position. For people passionate about the holiday he said, “this is an opportunity to celebrate Halloween even more.”

“I don’t think we should trick the public on this, I think we should treat the public to a no vote,” Bramble said to explain his vote.

Cullimore himself said he was an “aye on two,” insulting his own bill and suggesting the need for more work.

Millner reminded Cullimore that, “he is a strong proponent of parent choice, not government regulation,” before voting no.

“I do think there is some merit to the idea,” Cullimore told the media after the bill failed. “Maybe we’ll try to encourage our schools to (celebrate) on Friday anyways.”