If I had a dollar for every rumor about Evanston rules and laws I’ve heard in my year and a month of being a Wildcat, I’d be able to leave Beck’s after my quarterly textbook run without shedding a single tear. Stories of Evanston’s strict legal code are Northwestern staples, and many of us take them all to heart. However, after a fruitful email exchange with Evanston Police Department Executive Officer Jason Parrott, I found that the laws in Evanston aren’t always as strict as the rumors portray them to be.
Trick-or-treating is a time-honored Halloween tradition as American as apple pie, government shutdowns and already-dated jokes about the government shutdown. And in fact, contrary to popular belief, trick-or-treating is totally legal here, as long as it’s between the hours of 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. So, you know, the hours where it wouldn’t be any fun to do. But it’s still technically not banned! Because so much of the fun of trick-or-treating involves running around in costumes at night, however, initiatives like Project Pumpkin still thrive, because honestly, even if it isn’t the only legal option, no seven year-old worth his or her salt wants to go trick-or-treating in the late afternoon.
Another common misconception is that fact that bowling is illegal here. While it has been scientifically proven that bowling leads directly to swing dancing, plagiarism and methamphetamine usage, Evanston’s lack of a bowling alley has nothing to do with the actions of the Evanston city council. In fact, there even used to be a bowling alley in Northwestern's gymnasium. So, if your lifelong dream has been to start up Evanston’s first bowling alley – congrats! The only thing standing in your way is yourself.
The three-unrelated ordinance
The final misconception is a big one: the "brothel law." According to every student ever, the reason you can’t live in an apartment with more than two other people not in your family is Evanston assumes that your new home would instantly transform into a den of prostitution and gambling and other shady activities. Well, although the law itself is not a myth, the reasons for it are at least somewhat exaggerated. The real rationale has more to do with antiquated anti-tenement zoning laws, and less to do with the fear that the already world famous party hub of Evanston would take the final steps to becoming the Amsterdam of the Chicago North Shore.
The drinking age
That’s still 21. Sorry, kids.