Dear Urban Diplomat: Am I allowed to decorate my house any way I want at Halloween?
Dear Urban Diplomat,
Every Halloween, I do up my lawn as a graveyard, scatter body parts around the porch and hang a fake corpse from a tree. Last year, someone slipped a note in my mailbox asking me to make it less scary or they’d call the city. Am I breaking any laws? What should I do?
—Wicked Witch of the West, Etobicoke
As long as those body parts aren’t real, you’re fine. For those of us who aren’t occultists or Slipknot fans, Halloween is the rare occasion when we get to dabble in the macabre. Your decorations sound festive to me, and since there aren’t any bylaws regulating Halloween scare tactics, the unneighbourly threat to sic the city on you is toothless. I wouldn’t tone it down—though I wouldn’t crank it up, either. If you start hanging pentagrams, consulting Ouija boards or sacrificing livestock, you’ve gone too far. Keep calm and scary on—just be sure not to leave the decorations up once the occasion has passed. Going all out is admirable. Neglecting to pack it in is unforgivable.
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