COVID-19 fosters innovation for Halloween

When OPRF junior Sam Zimberoff was a middle schooler, he, like many others, decided it was time to stop trick-or-treating. But his maturity didn’t stop him from finding fun and unique ways to participate in the Halloween celebration.
For about seven years, Zimberoff and his dad have created the “Candy Drop,” an exciting and coincidentally contact-free way of handing out candy to neighborhood kids.
“I didn’t really want to spend time asking people for candy when I had it at home,” Zimberoff said. “So (my dad) challenged us to do something cool and find a fun way to give out candy to kids.”
The father-son duo has truly built upon the contraption each Halloween. “Our first year, we literally took a gutter and zip-tied it to our front porch,” Zimberoff said. “After a few years, we decided to change it up … we added a motor into it and built (a) candy chairlift.”
However, with each new innovation Zimberoff and his dad add to their contraption, considerable challenges have to be anticipated. The Candy Drop takes about two months of designing, planning, and prepping.
“My dad is not an engineer, and obviously I’m a high school student. So we have a lot of failures,” Zimberoff said. “This year was probably our most successful, and even still it failed twice … those failures are what we learn from. When we started doing the motor, there were problems that any engineer could have told you would happen that we had no idea about.”
Despite the inevitability of imperfections, the turnout on Halloween night drives Zimberoff and his dad to take new risks each year. “When it works, the kids’ faces when they see candy falling from the sky, that’s the motivation behind it,” he said. “To deliver an experience that’s really unique that you’re not going to find anywhere else.”
This year, the Candy Drop included a large “VOTE” sign to coincide with the election. “We weren’t telling you who to vote for, we weren’t trying to sway which way you thought, but we just wanted to express the importance of voting,” Zimberoff said. “Four years ago, my mom wanted to put up a yard sign, so my dad and I went into our shop, got some wood and painted it orange, and we (made a) vote sign. And it wasn’t huge, but it was noticeable … this year, we made it even bigger and incorporated it into our slide.”
With the concerns surrounding COVID-19, though, many local parents were debating whether or not they should let their children go trick-or-treating this year.
As a result, Zimberoff and his dad were building a huge Halloween contraption with complete uncertainty as to whether or not it would be used, or even seen, on Halloween night. “It was a weird guessing game this year,” he said. “We had no idea how many people were going to show up.”
However, being completely touch-free, the Candy Drop attracted hundreds of people, bringing the neighborhood together in a safe way. “All the precautions people had to take of just normally handing out candy, the Candy Drop did that. It was super low-touch, kids were super spread apart, it was pretty perfect for COVID,” he said.