Halloween Day dawned orange and black at Arthur Stevenson elementary on Thursday as students engaged in a variety of related activities, excluding costumes.
There were no princesses in tiaras or masked superheroes in the corridors, no vampires or monsters at their desks, because the Westsyde school adopted a new policy this year - no Halloween costumes, please.
Naturally, some kids and parents aren't pleased. A notice was sent home to parents a couple of weeks ago informing them of the new policy.
"The reason they gave is that kids would leave parts of their costumes at school," said Dave Jessop, who has children in grades 4 and 6 at Arthur Stevenson.
"The kids look forward to it," he said, having just watched students on their way to another Westsyde school, excited to be wearing their costumes.
"It's not fair for a school to be able to do that," he added. "It's up to the child and parents to make sure that the kids get all of their costumes back."
He said he has mixed feelings about the new policy, but his kids felt let down.
"They were disappointed. A lot of their friends wanted to see them in their costumes."
Costume chaos is just one of the reasons the policy was introduced, said principal Carol Robb, who assumed administration of the school this year. She's adopted the same rule in the past at Rayleigh, Lloyd George and Stuart Wood schools.
"The rationales are many," Robb said.
She first consulted with teachers, who told her that costumes are a major distraction to classroom learning. Costumes tend to exacerbate behavioural issues already present in the school. They have a significant number of students who are under ministry care, and costumes can traumatize them if they've been abused, Robb said.
Costumes limit physical activity at a time when educators are encouraged to get students moving more. Robb has also found that costumes can be inappropriate. She recalled past years when kids showed up dressed as a pimp and as Britney Spears gone bad.
As well, there are quite a few kids attending from Jehovah Witness families, who do not celebrate Halloween out of religious conviction, she noted.
"This keeps everybody at a level playing field."
Teachers were thankful for the new policy, she added.
Other educators across Canada have adopted similar rules, suggesting a backlash to an obvious trend. Halloween has grown more commercialized, the celebration more pervasive in recent years.
"We are trying to keep it minimal at school."
That doesn't mean kids can't have Halloween fun, which included a dance Thursday afternoon.
Karl de Bruijn, assistant superintendent for the district, said it is left to each school and individual teachers to set the rule.
"It can be problematic when you look at costumes that are adult-oriented and some costumes that are not appropriate for schools," he concurred.
He wasn't sure how many schools have adopted a no-costume policy but felt it important enough to look into.
"We get calls from people on all sides of the spectrum. It's very difficult to satisfy all people."