Kingston plumber finds creative solution to make Halloween safer for trick-or-treaters at 700 homes

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By Robin MacLennan

Ontario Construction News staff writer

A good deed that started in the U.S. has quickly spread to plumbers in Toronto and Kingston this Halloween.

“I will start by clarifying that we are just a bunch of copycats,” Kingston plumber Dan Vokey said in an interview. “Since Halloween has posed issues with distancing, The Candy Chute was a way to have kids gain some ground by keeping kids from passing each other on front steps or ringing doorbells.”

Toronto’s Geoff Burke is the original candy chute maker in Ontario, but when the province increased COVID-19 restrictions on the city and recommended against trick or treating this year, the production line halted.

“Now for the good news,” Burke wrote on his Facebook page after the restrictions were announced. “While part of this project was meant to bring a smile to a potential trick-or-treater’s face, the greater goal was to help Daily Bread in their efforts to feed the less fortunate – those that rely on the food bank every day. As it stands, we have raised more than $17,000 – enough to provide 17,000 meals to those who are currently struggling. I am truly appreciative and grateful to every one of you who have chosen to support this initiative.”

Owner of Watermark Plumbing, Burke was ready to install candy chutes outside hundreds of houses – to allow children to collect candy while maintaining a safe distance from homeowners.

In just two days, he received requests for chutes from more than 400 people in and around his neighbourhood.

Burke’s candy chutes are made out of PVC pipes and they are attached to a stair railing in front of the house. They are spray-painted orange and spiralled with black duct tape to make them look more festive.

Treats would be delivered directly into the kids’ bags.

While Haloween is a no-go in Toronto, it’s full speed ahead in Kingston where Vokey is setting up hundreds of his version of the candy chute – for free.

Working late in his shop with just three days before the haunting begins, he says its his way of giving back to the community where of Dan Vokey’s Plumbing Services has operated for the past five years.

Dan Vokey
Dan Vokey

Vokey’s chutes are made from three-inch black ABS (thermoplastic resin) pipe used for conventional home drainage pipe. With a few decorations, the chutes are ready and children can collect candy while remaining physically distanced.

“By cutting a piece of 3″ cell core in half and decorating it with coloured tape and a few ribbons and attaching it to a railing at a household using zip ties, it creates a festive way to safely transfer candy to trick-or-treaters by sending it down the chute,” he said.

For houses without railings, he created self supporting stands out of a Halloween pail, a 4-foot piece of 1.5-inch cell core and a bit of quick dry cement mix.

With a little innovation, Vokey says his company will install more than 700 chutes in time for Halloween.

“Many of us in the company have kids and it broke our hearts a little that one more thing may be taken away from them this year,” he said.  “We felt that it was a proactive way to plan for fun, and safe Halloween which the Kingston area has the green light for.

“We were also happy that we took the extra step to offer all of this free of charge to anyone interested. This community has been really good to us and we love being good to it.”

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