Henry Kearns in Mr. Trash Wheel costume. Photo by Robert Kearns.

Every year on Halloween, the streets are filled with children dressed as classic heroes. Sidewalks all over the country are overrun by tiny Spider-Men, Captain Americas, and Batmen.

But for Halloween this year, Henry Kearns had a different hero in mind. 

The Francis Scott Key second grader wanted to pay tribute to his local Baltimore hero, Mr. Trash Wheel.

Mr. Trash Wheel, a water wheel that collects trash from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, was installed in May 2014.

The Trash Wheel family, which includes Mr. Trash Wheel and three other water wheels throughout Baltimore, has so far collected 1,760.69 tons of trash and debris. 

Henry and his father, Robert Kearns, spent time building the Mr. Trash Wheel costume together over the past two weeks.

Photo by Robert Kearns

They built the costume using items from the Dollar Store and a motor from Amazon.

The conveyor belt operates as a pulley system with the motor, paint rollers, and a plastic tablecloth.

The costume also features a toy snake, referring to the python that was curled around Mr. Trash Wheel back in 2015.

Photo by Robert Kearns

“We kind of just cobbled it together, and it turned out really good,” Robert said. 

Henry and Robert plan to trick-or-treat in their Federal Hill neighborhood and attend the South Baltimore Halloween Bash in Riverside Park on Saturday. 

“We are going to go to a costume contest and we are absolutely going to win,” Henry said. 

Halloween this year is particularly exciting for children all over the country, as festivities last year were largely canceled due to the pandemic.

Last year “wasn’t that exciting,” Henry said.

“I had to stay inside our alley, you couldn’t go anywhere else, I got barely any candy,” he said. 

When Henry and Robert finished the costume, Robert posted a video on the Baltimore Reddit page. 

Robert, who works at Johns Hopkins Medicine as the Director of Online Education, was surprised to see the post quickly gain traction and receive an outpouring of praise. 

“We’re big Trash Wheel nerds, but it’s cool that other people are too,” he said.