Help save Hal­loween 2020 with a home­made candy chute

The Beaufort Gazette (Sunday) - - Real Estate & Homes - BY LIAM FORD Chicago Tribune

If one thing de­serves to go on dur­ing this freak show of a year, it’s Hal­loween.

Amer­ica’s civic, cul­tural and po­lit­i­cal life live in the spirit of the hol­i­day.

Hal­loween was born from rem­nants of a pa­gan feast that also is bound up with the cel­e­bra­tion of one of the high­est holy days in the Chris­tian cal­en­dar, All Saints Day. But All Hal­lows’ Eve has never been made an of­fi­cial hol­i­day. Its tra­di­tions aren’t or­ga­nized. It started out in the United States as a night for bon­fires, tale telling and cos­tume par­ties. It be­came a night for some­times dan­ger­ous mischief. And af­ter World War I, it turned into a night for chil­dren to beg door-to-door.

Since March, I’ve been think­ing about Hal­loween and what the coro­n­avirus pan­demic might do to it. Haunted houses, the re­sorts of older teens en­am­ored of frights but not will­ing to dress up in silly cos­tumes, are out. Par­ties are out. Kids shouldn’t gather with their friends to form door-to-door mobs.

And the iso­la­tion and the real-world hor­rors im­posed by COVID-19 have had me flash­ing back to 1982. That year, the Chicago-area Tylenol mur­ders, with bot­tles of painkiller­s tainted with cyanide, can­celed trickor-treat­ing.

Can kids trick-or-treat safely this year, I won­dered? Then the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol ad­vised par­ents to “avoid tra­di­tional trick-or-treat­ing.” In­stead, the CDC ad­vised peo­ple to leave small bags of treats out­side your door. (How long would those last?)

But Chicago Mayor Lori Light­foot and city Health Com­mis­sioner Dr. Al­li­son Ar­wady gave us some hope when they said they weren’t can­cel­ing Hal­loween.

Then my wife saw some­thing on Face­book. A chute, made of a PVC pipe, de­signed to de­liver Snick­ers or Twix or Laffy Taffy to the hun­gry hordes, while keep­ing the young ghouls away from those hand­ing out the treats.

And I de­cided to build it.

Or­ange would be best. And or­ange PVC pipe is used for sprin­kler sys­tems. But it com­monly comes as a 1-inch-wide pipe, too small for even the funnest-sized can­dies.

So, like a lot of peo­ple on YouTube and Face­book, I priced 10-foot­long, plain white, 3-inch PVC. They’re the most com­mon and eas­ily avail­able tubes, and last week­end I was on the verge of spend­ing about $15 at a lo­cal hard­ware store. I needed about an 8-foot piece to at­tach to the front porch rail­ing of our Rogers Park house, long enough to launch candy from the top step and have it be eas­ily caught by kids on the front walk.

Luck­ily, I found enough scrap 2-inch PVC in the rafters of our garage.

I took it down, brought it to the front porch and it fit. (If you’re buy­ing a piece and don’t have the equip­ment to safely cut it to size, most hard­ware stores will do it for you.) Cleaned off and hosed through, then dis­in­fected and hosed again, it was ready for use.

My wife got a few rolls of or­ange duct tape (we visit Clark-Devon Hard­ware reg­u­larly), and I ended up us­ing just one full roll, for about $5, to wrap the tube.

To keep the candy from shoot­ing right out onto the side­walk, I bought a 2-inch, 45-de­gree an­gle el­bow for the bot­tom of the pipe.

I was go­ing to mount the tube to the top of the rail­ing with metal straps, but the hard­ware store clerks told me zip ties (with a lit­tle more duct tape) would do the job just fine.

Mount­ing com­plete, dec­o­ra­tions came next. My 11-year-old daugh­ter broke out some mark­ers. I wrapped the chute with or­ange hol­i­day lights and draped the top three­quar­ters with a wispy black cloth.

To keep the tube clean un­til Hal­loween, I at­tached round pieces of card­board cov­ered in tape at both ends.

The chute does work. (Vi­o­lat­ing house rules, we broke into the stash of Hal­loween candy to test it.) Not only do the candy pieces come zoom­ing out of the chute, they make a suit­ably didgeri­doo-like sound on the way down. A re­pur­posed plas­tic jack-o-lantern, with a hole cut in its mouth so it looks as if the pump­kin is spew­ing candy, com­pletes the rig.

Next, we’ll have to fig­ure out how to mark off so­cial dis­tanc­ing for the fam­i­lies we hope will give us a chance to use our new­est, most 2020 of dec­o­ra­tions.

So, friends and fel­low candy-lovers, don’t let the pan­demic smash our Hal­loween spirit. We need it now more than ever. We’re a na­tion built on in­ge­nu­ity. And duct tape.


Liam Ford, a Chicago Tribune ed­i­tor, and his daugh­ter, Ruth, 11, dec­o­rate their porch and Hal­loween candy chute.

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