Andrew Beattie has always loved Halloween. He loves all holidays, a dedication that began when he was a child. But Halloween is special to Beattie, a horror-movie lover who will often dress as Michael Myers or another famous boogeyman to hand out candy. In his Cincinnati home, there is a spare room filled with Halloween props, masks and decorations. He and his family wait for the time of year when they can empty it.
“Those holidays you can go all out for, I love doing so whenever possible,” he said.
But Halloween, like so many other events, will be altered by the novel coronavirus pandemic. In early September, Beattie, his wife and their 6-year-old daughter were discussing what their beloved holiday might look like and they came up with an idea. What if there was a way to hand out candy without getting closer than six feet to a single trick-or-treater? Beattie remembered he had a long tube, formerly an Amazon shipping container, in the basement. The next day, it took about 20 minutes to bring the idea to life: a candy chute.
It’s a simple setup. The long tube, running the length of the railing on Beattie’s front stairs, is meant to deliver candy straight from homeowner to trick-or-treater. Beattie said he will wear a mask, change his gloves frequently and take the candy right out of the bag and drop it in the chute. A sign at the bottom of the tube will show trick-or-treaters where to hold their bags.
A proud member of several Halloween-centric Facebook groups, Beattie posted a picture of his invention to Facebook. It quickly took off, amassing 85,000 shares in two weeks.
“I think a big part of [the reaction] is people innately, for the most part, have good intentions and good hearts and want what’s best for each other,” he said. “This was an opportunity for them to see that people were taking a chance to think of ways that we could keep each other a little more safe — looking out for each other and not just ourselves in this time.”
Most of the 10,000 comments now on his post are from people who praised the ingenuity and promised to do the same at their house. But not all of them were positive, with some people chiding him and anyone else hoping for a semi-normal Halloween that it’s too risky in a pandemic.
“But they’re coming from a good place, too, just wanting people to be safe,” Beattie said.
Beattie understands their position all too well because he himself is immunocompromised. He has worked from home for the last few months, spending time with his daughter. The idea of handing out candy in a nontraditional way had come up in past years, because the steps in front of his house make trick-or-treating difficult for those with mobility challenges. Now, he could finally make that idea a reality while also staying safe.
“Halloween is typically that time of year that people from all walks of life and all age groups tend to come together and want to have a little bit of fun,” he said. “I love that.”
Most years, Beattie turns his yard into a ghostly paradise, complete with fake gravestones, skeletons and a fog machine. On Halloween night, he often puts a white sheet in his window and projects “Charlie Brown” or “Hocus Pocus” for passersby. The idea is to create an atmosphere that reminds him of what it was like to be a kid at Halloween, Christmas or another holiday.
“It was always a really festive atmosphere and one that was really warm and inviting,” he said. “We want to extend that right now. We want people to see that we can come together safely and come together in a civilized manner. Even though there’s so much turmoil in this country, if we find some common ground that might help.”
This year’s costumes have not yet been decided, but other preparations are fully underway. Despite the pandemic, a lot of things will stay the same this year. Beattie said his daughter will go trick-or-treating, if only up and down the street. And the lawn display will be the same, if not bigger. Beattie is thinking of adding something to show visitors where to stand as they approach the candy chute. Maybe something a little spooky — such as bloody footprints — spaced six feet apart.