Introduction: Halloween Candy Zipline

About: Crafter, public Librarian, mom of teenagers, wife to a very patient husband. I've rarely met a craft I didn't like and working at a public library doesn't help with keeping crafty ideas in check! I'm always lo…
Every year our cul-de-sac gets together for a Halloween party, and we pool all of our candy so that Trick-or-Treaters can get a whole bunch at once while not having to go to 10 houses.
This year we still wanted to give out candy as a group, and because we're outside all night (and it's usually pretty breezy) we decided to go ahead and do a distanced candy distribution.
There was a video that was super hot among my Facebook friends and it showed a zipline for candy and beer delivery, and of course that sparked some ideas. What I really wanted was for the bucket to dump the candy out but I haven't quite figured that out yet. Regardless, what we came up with worked pretty well for this year.
I have some ideas for next year which will include a bucket that actually dumps the candy. Hopefully we won't be doing distancing still at Halloween 2021, but this is still a fun way to get candy to kids. (And adults.)

Step 1: Gather Supplies

  • Bucket
  • Clothesline rope (something without much stretch), long enough to go between the anchor points plus at least 5'
  • Pulleys x 2
  • Hooks x 5
  • 2x6 board, or a way to anchor the higher end of the zipline
  • T-post, or a way to anchor the lower end of the zipline
  • Plywood scrap approx. 1" x 5.5" x 15.5"
  • Wood scrap approximately 1" x 1" x 8" for stop
  • Zip ties to secure the stop and hook openings
  • Paint and decorations for the trolley (I used black spray paint and white vinyl--more info in the next step)

Step 2: The Carriage

Confession: I eyeballed all of the placement for the hooks. There is no testing or math involved, although I did try to get the top hooks spaced mostly equally from the ends.

We predrilled the holes for the hooks to keep the plywood from splitting.

The hook at and angle off the end of the board for the fishing line/retrieval line was closed using a vice, although just keeping the fishing line in using a zip tie would have been fine.

I spray painted the whole thing black using a satin spray paint, then added some decoration because that's a big space that just cried out for something.

The white "BOO!" and ghost are designs I cut from white outdoor vinyl, and the designs are from the Silhouette Design Store. I cut them using a Silhouette Cameo 3 and the vinyl is from Cricut (which is not something I'd buy again--now that I've gotten more experience I much prefer Siser brand).

The bucket is supposed to dump (although by the end of the night I cut off the line that pulled it up and just tied the fishing line to the hook at the back) so we drilled a hole at the bottom edge for the fishing line to attach.

Step 3: Setting Up the Zipline and Some Test Runs

Higher end (first photo)

Preparing the 2x6 board

  1. I tied a knot in the end of the rope.
  2. About 2' of rope was stapled to the board, running down the back of the board.
  3. We predrilled a hole about 8" down from the top of the board, then inserted a threaded hook for the fishing line guide.

The 2x6 was then secured to the fence using 2 1/2" screws.

The carriage

We threaded the rope through the carriage, with the bucket end toward the higher end.

Lower end (third photo)

  1. We drove the t-post into the ground. (This setup changed during the evening due to the ground being soft and the post moving under the tension of the rope.) The board at the bottom was added a few hours later in an attempt to give it more tension, as the ground was soft enough from recent rains that the post was moving a bit.
  2. The free end of the rope was tied to the t-post, with as much tension as we could to make the rope tight.
  3. We used a 1"x1" piece of wood as a stopper for the carriage and secured it to the rope using zip ties.

Adding the fishing line

Since we had a hook at the higher end to guide the fishing line, I didn't bother threading that to begin with.

  1. I unspooled enough fishing line that I could put the fishing pole on the ground and work with the carriage at a comfortable height.
  2. I threaded the fishing line from the top through the hook at the back, then through the hole in the bucket at the bottom and tied a knot.
  3. With the fishing pole still unspooling, I brought the pole back to the higher end, flipped the bail, and reeled the carriage back. Once it was fairly close hooked the fishing line back over the hook and let the fishing pole lean against the fence (last photo—it's kind of hard to see).

Step 4: Adjustments During the Night and Thoughts About Next Time

Securing the zip line

We'd had four days of rain earlier in the week so the ground was really soft, which meant that the t-post we'd used as an anchor wasn't quite secure enough to hold the tension of the line.

The solution ended up being moving it closer to the fire hydrant and then zip-tying it. Next time we'll do something quite a bit more secure, but for a first attempt it wasn't a total failure.

Reducing drag

A pulley instead of a hook at the higher point would probably have reduced drag.

Dump mechanism

I struggled to come up with a dump mechanism, and after using the candy zipline all evening it really didn't work the way I had hoped. About halfway through the evening I cut the line off the bottom of the bucket and re-tied it to the hook at the back of the carriage, and while it didn't have the cool tipping motion it also made it a LOT easier to load since the bucket was upright.

Halloween Contest

Participated in the
Halloween Contest