HUMBOLDT — For the first Halloween since the COVID-19 pandemic began, households and businesses were forced to get creative in handing out their treats to the young ghosts and ghouls throughout the community.
For the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute (PAMI), that problem cultivated a creative solution in their new “candy contraption.”
“The staff association wanted to do something that was COVID safe so they came up with the idea of the ‘COVID candy contraption’ and it kind of grew from there,” said Troy Palidwar, PAMI’s director of business development. “It allowed kids to get candy safely and have fun doing it.”
Palidwar said about 18 staff members worked on the machine, volunteering approximately 40 hours to build it.
The contraption is started by a motion sensor which detects a child waving their hand in front of it. Once activated, a single piece of candy is shaken from a big bucket storing the treats, and onto a belt. The piece of candy landing on the belt triggers another sensor, which activates a “Jacob’s ladder” as well as lights.
This is where a “people powered” aspect comes into play with a staff member powering the machine on the other end through a connected stationary bicycle.
Thanks to the energy being emitted by the peddling, the conveyer belt moves the piece of candy to the other side belt where it goes down a tube and into the trick-or-treaters bag.
“Everyone has been taking part and really enjoying it, even the parents. We get a lot of smiles from the parents from vehicles,” Palidwar said. “I’m as giddy as the kids getting the candy.”
Palidwar said although they hope COVID-19 won’t be an issue next year, they still intend to bring the machine back— but maybe with a few more bells and whistles.
“I hope this concept grows and we do this every year,” he said. “Build more pieces, make it bigger, make it more elaborate and just have some more fun with it.”