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The biggest Halloween scare: neighbors stingy with the candy

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It’s a common Halloween practice, even in New York City: trick or treaters hone in on the addresses that promise the biggest haul, hitting up the luxury condo tower with a children’s playroom and perhaps skipping the “luxury tenement” tricked out for twentysomething roommates. But are residents of higher end buildings obligated to hand out candy to all kids who come their way?

A reader recently posed this question, rather indelicately, to “Dear Prudence,” Slate’s weekly advice column. This person lives in a more “modest” part of one of the richest neighborhoods in the country—​we could see this being a street off Central Park West, though the letter doesn't specify—​and wonders whether he or she is required to hand out candy to every princess and Batman who rings the doorbell, even if they’re from another part of town. “What seems like 75 percent of the trick-or-treaters are clearly not from this neighborhood. Kids arrive in overflowing cars from less fortunate areas,” the reader writes, continuing, “Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?”

Prudence doesn’t mince words: “Your whine makes me kind of wish that people from the actual poor side of town come this year not with scary costumes but with real pitchforks. Stop being callous and miserly and go to Costco, you cheapskate, and get enough candy to fill the bags of the kids who come one day a year to marvel at how the 1 percent live.”

So there you have it: be generous with your candy, even with kids who don't share your Zip Code. And those lazy teenagers who half-ass a costume just to get free chocolate? Well, that’s your call.

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