Cute Chute

Mars family will give treats at a distance

October 30, 2020 Cranberry Living


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Jen Gianfrancesco and her husband, Jason, created this candy chute out of plastic pipe, 2x2s, spray paint and spooky decorations to create a candy chute to satisfy trick-or-treaters in her Mars neighborhood without violating pandemic protocols.

MARS — This Halloween, people have to get creative not just with their costumes, but also with the act of trick-or-treating itself. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to rethink how they'll greet the little ghosts and goblins at the door this year.

Halloween fan and self-admitted crafty person Jen Gianfrancesco of Mars created a spooky candy delivery system to counter the problem of handing out treats during this era of social distancing.

10/30 Jen Gianfrancesco dressed up as a Victorian vampire during a past Halloween. The self-described crafty person and her family count Halloween as their favorite holiday.

Gianfrancesco, of 211 Gabriel Drive in the Fulton Crossing subdivision, created a candy chute to deliver the goodies to trick-or-treaters come Saturday night.

Gianfrancesco and her husband, Jason, put together a 6-foot-long chute to deliver candy to children without violating health protocols.

She said, “It's 3-inch PVC pipe. All I did was spray paint it black.

“My husband made the platforms out of 2-by-2s.”

She decorated it with light-up spiders and other spooky accessories. The skull at the end of the chute lights up too.

“The spiders I've had for a long time. The skull I got at Walmart. The vines and small spiders and crows I got at a discount store,” she said.

It took the couple a few hours to put the candy chute together. There was a false start when they found a 2-inch PVC pipe tended to trap the candy on its trip from hand to trick-or-treater. A switch to 3-inch pipe solved that problem.

“We put it together on Oct. 10,” she said. “It comes apart in three pieces. Velcro strips attach the pipe to the platform.”

Breaking it apart means it can be stored for use in the future.

Gianfrancesco said she got the idea from watching a YouTube video in which a similar contraption was put together to keep trick-or-treaters separate from homeowners.

Jen Gianfrancesco dressed up as a Victorian vampire during a past Halloween. The self-described crafty person and her family count Halloween as their favorite holiday.

That's just fine by Dr. John Love, medical director of infectious disease at Butler Health System, who has said the rules that apply to conduct in public spaces and schools — social distancing, wearing masks — are a good starting point to insuring Halloween safety.

Leaving candy in a bowl or having individual bags of candy for pickup were recommended by Love.

“Some people more creative than I are creating candy tunnels, using a stretch of PVC pipe to slide candy down to children from a distance,” said Love.

This was no problem for Gianfrancesco, who has also used her craft savvy to create a bat chandelier and a Halloween wreath, and she dresses up with her stepdaughter, Kyleigh, 17, to hand out treats.

“We always have big fun at Halloween. It's one of my favorite holidays of the year,” she said.

The candy chute is especially important because she said she gets loads of trick-or-treaters in her neighborhood.

“I hope the kids enjoy it. I think it's fun, and I think the kids will have a blast,” said Gianfrancesco.

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Eric Freehling

Eric Freehling

Eric was born in Butler and grew up in Winfield Township. He graduated from Knoch High School and later Indiana University of Pa. with a degree in Journalism. After working as a reporter and editor with the Kittanning Leader-Times, he moved to Bloomington, Illinois, where he worked at The Pantagraph newspaper as a copy editor, page designer, reporter and business editor. Freehling later worked at the Houston Chronicle as senior copy editor and the Chicago Tribune as a copy editor on the business desk. He moved back to Pennsylvania in 2010 and joined the Butler Eagle as Community Editor in January 2011.