While talking with parents in August at a pediatric clinic in Southwest Virginia, medical student Nicole Minor heard the same concerns. In the wake of COVID-19, families were worried about children returning to school, virtual learning, and whether or not they could take their kids trick-or-treating safely this Halloween.
“It would be nice if there was something that we could do to help,” said Minor, a student at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, to her husband, Chris Minor, a software engineer.
The couple, both Virginia Tech alumni, put their heads together. And while browsing the plumbing aisle of a Home Depot in Ashland, Va., where they live, the candy slide was born, complete with 3-inch round PVC pipes, fittings and orange spray paint.
Now, the Minors are fielding questions from local and national media, including National Public Radio and NBC’s TODAY, and answering messages from people who live in Ireland, England and Canada who want to build the same contactless candy creation.
The slide went viral after Chris Minor posted a photo of it on his Facebook page a few weeks ago.
“I was just thinking that some of my friends will like it,” he said of the photo. “I put my phone down and logged on three hours later. It had been shared 3,000 times.”
Minor even created a $5 e-manual that explains how to create the slide, made from a series of PVC pipes, fittings and glue, along with legs to hold it up. The Minors spray-painted the pipes orange and added a witch decoration at the round opening.
The slide stands at the top of the four steps leading up to the Minor’s front porch. When trick-or-treaters arrive, the Minors will use tongs to pick up individual pieces of candy and send each piece down the pipe. Children can hold their bags open at the end of the slide or use their hands to catch the candy when it pops out.
Bite-sized candy bars and mini M&M bags seem to slide best, based on preliminary tests, said Chris Minor ’17, who majored in electrical engineering at Virginia Tech and works for Lockheed Martin in Manassas.
Not only does the slide provide a solution for safe trick-or-treating during the coronavirus pandemic, it offers a way for children who use wheelchairs or have other disabilities to trick-or-treat without having to climb stairs to a house’s front door.
The Minors said they are excited for a child in their neighborhood who has a wheelchair to use the candy slide this year. Last year, they had about 100 trick-or-treaters total, their first Halloween in the neighborhood and as a married couple. They became engaged at the Duck Pond on Virginia Tech’s campus.
“We feel really grateful for the opportunity to reach so many people and give them ideas for more kids to participate,” said Nicole Minor ‘16, who majored in biochemistry at Virginia Tech and hopes to become a pediatrician.
The Minors even heard from a family in Alaska inquiring about how to build a candy slide for their child with disabilities.
“It has been an unexpected reward,” said Nicole Minor. “The point of all of this was to help people; to do something to create some sense of normalcy.”
— Written by Jenny Kincaid Boone