This year’s Halloween, like so many activities, will be very different from the past. Door-to-door trick-or-treating seems problematic, due to the potential for exposure to both homeowners handing out candy and the kids collecting it.
Enter Virginia Tech engineering grad and Lockheed Martin software engineer Chris Minor, who designed a socially distant front stoop candy slide that will let him provide his Richmond, Virginia neighborhood kids with the usual amount of chocolate and sugar without undue risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus.
It is a simple PVC plastic contraption, painted festive Halloween orange, and installed on his front stoop. Minor offers plans for the slide on Etsy.com for a nominal $5.
We decided to build a slide and found that the total for the parts, paint, and glue came to $50. To do the job, we bought two 10-foot sections of 1.5-inch PVC to form the supports and legs, and another 10-foot section of 2.0-inch PVC to form the main part of the slide itself. We also got two angled junctions to connect the legs to the slide, two 1.5-inch tee connectors to attach the legs to the vertical supports, and 1.5-inch caps to close off the pipes to make it look good.
We hit the finished product with a coat of florescent orange spray paint to ensure a proper Halloween style. The last step is to seal off the bottom openings in the junctions at either end of the slide pipe so the candy goes to the child’s waiting basket rather than slipping into the support legs.
We made our slide 6 feet long to meet the minimum of social distance because our stoop is only two steps up from the walk. A taller stoop or porch might require the full ten feet of PVC pipe length.
Minor learned some lessons along the way. His first prototype employed an elbow at the bottom to cradle the candy for the kids to remove. Further consideration revealed that having kids potentially touching the slide defeats its purpose, so the final design is a straight-through section that dumps the candy touchlessly into the trick-or-treater’s bag.
The homeowner puts candy into the chute using kitchen tongs, so no hands ever touch the candy.
We learned a lesson too, and that is that florescent spray paint has poor coverage, so we needed a second can to paint the slide.
Minor has more than 350,000 shares of his Facebook post and sold more than 300 copies of his Etsy plans for the candy slide, which has been featured on news reports as far away as Australia. Has the slide been worth all this attention? “This is the best day of my life,” exclaimed one of Minor’s young neighbors when pressed into service testing the slide ahead of the holiday.