An Ohio dad’s “candy chute” is gaining attention from thousands of people as parents around the country search for ways to more safely celebrate Halloween amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s a simple idea: A cardboard tube attached to an inclined handrail. Andrew Beattie, of Cincinnati, says he made the simple solution in a Friday night craft session with his 6-year-old daughter.
To help trick-or-treaters unfamiliar with the concept, a helpful ghost sits at the bottom of the tube, bearing the message “place buckets here.” In a Facebook post, Beattie said he plans on using a gloved hand to place the candy at the top of the tube, allowing it to slide into the bucket from 6 feet away.
Beattie says people around the country can craft a “candy chute” themselves to help make trick-or-treating safer this year — or maybe they’ll come up with an even better idea.
“Ultimately, I wanted it to be something that encourages folks to get creative with ways to stay safe,” Beattie wrote in a message to USA TODAY on Wednesday. He hopes it will help people safely celebrate a beloved holiday: “Our country needs that right now.”
For those who don’t want to craft their own chute, a New Jersey company is selling one.
Candy Chute LLC was incorporated just days before Beattie’s post went viral, according to the state’s Division of Revenue Enterprise Services. The company aims to “Save Halloween 2020” with their product, according to their website.
Health experts have expressed concerns about the health risks of trick-or-treating during a pandemic.
Dr. Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UC Davis Health and UC Davis Children’s Hospital, says families should avoid trick-or-treating. He says even in areas with a low risk of transmission, the door-to-door activity could spur an outbreak.
Other experts have stressed the risk will vary based on a number of factors. Dr. Sandra Kesh, an infectious disease physician at Westmed Medical Group in Purchase, New York, said it’s possible to safely trick-or-treat this year, but there are caveats.
She says if COVID-19 is not well-controlled in an area, locals should refrain. Local health departments and government websites typically offer public tracking of coronavirus infections. Enclosed spaces, like apartment buildings, should be avoided, too, she says.
Kesh advises limiting trick-or-treating to three or four kids. Before heading out, parents should ask if the family they are joining has been taking precautions and wearing masks. Parents can wipe down candy or let it sit for a couple of days if they are worried about surface transmission of the virus.
Beattie hopes his creation will be an affordable, easy way to reduce risk around Halloween.
“I really hope this helps people get out to enjoy themselves – especially the moms with strollers and people with mobility challenges or other health concerns as well,” he wrote.
Contributing: Erin Jensen, USA TODAY