The Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest: A Day of Sand, Sun and Salsa Music


On Saturday there was a break from the heat. After several days of temperatures in the upper 90’s, Saturday’s temperature of 84° felt invigorating. I was determined to take advantage of this brief (as in the temperature went up to 89° on Sunday and the weather forecast for Monday is 90°) window of opportunity to get outside without leaving a puddle of perspiration in my wake. I wanted to stretch my legs and get a little fresh air so I headed to Coney Island for the 21st annual Sand Sculpting Contest and Unity Day.

The contest and all the days’ activities were sponsored by the Astella Development Corporation (ADC).  The ADC is a grassroots non-profit organization that has been supporting the distressed Coney Island community since 1975. Today, with the Coney Island area earmarked for sweeping redevelopment/gentrification initiatives; ADC’s mission now includes working to ensure that the changes to come will be executed responsibly and respectfully with regard to the long time residents and small business owners in the area.   This is so important because the upscale housing and tourist friendly entertainment project puts a lot of people in jeopardy of losing their homes and livelihoods.

The New York City Parks Department provided the large individual plots of sand and the necessary water hoses to wet the sand for shaping.  The event attracted many enthusiastic amateurs, trained artists and even community oriented celebrity, Vincent D’Onofrio.  Everyone used their hands and feet to pack the clay rich sand. Also, some folks were armed with professional looking tools and others made use of the usual suspects of shovel, pail, straws and paper cups.

As the sculptors worked diligently a salsa band and a DJ provided music for dancing on the boardwalk. There were also booths and tables set up for the distribution of information regarding healthcare services, educational programs and other community improvement resources.

The judging took place at 3:00 pm and the winners were named soon after. There were so many categories and so many winners; I don’t think anyone left without a prize in hand. It was a really nice way to spend the day; so actually everyone came out a winner.

I was so happy to be out; I got a little snap happy! Here is a slide show of my day by the seashore.

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About atreegrowsinbklyn

I’m an analog girl living in a digital world. I’m happy except when I’m sad. I’m serious, smart and sophisticated except when I’m silly, obtuse and crude. I’m ambitious and disciplined; except when I’m apathetic and self indulgent. I‘m thoughtful, generous and honest; except when I’m insensitive, cheap and lying. I’m grateful; I’m grateful; I am grateful.
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4 Responses to The Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest: A Day of Sand, Sun and Salsa Music

  1. Touch2Touch says:

    What a terrific post!
    Nostalgia (I was a little near-naked kiddie on those sands before all the apartment buildings, etc.)
    and ART! Some of those entries are really good, some are funny, all are a great idea.
    Looks like you had a fine Brooklyn day.
    (Thanks for the “Like” —)

    • Hi Touch2Touch,

      Thanks for visiting the blog. It is great that a few of my recent posts offer points of connection.

      It was a lovely day at the shore. Later that same evening, I had a few moments when I would find myself thinking about how the sculptures were already gone. It renewed my gratitude for and my appreciation of the artists hard work and willingness to participate. Truly, they demonstrated a passion for the process; since the fruits of their labor was so short lived. That is very rare and so very contrary to our results oriented society.


  2. Thelonias says:

    I’ve been looking for a picture of my finished piece, since I only have intermediary pics (mine’s the dragon). Thanks so much for posting these!
    It was a lot of fun! The hardest moment was definitively leaving it alone…where people could completely destroy it.

    • Hi Thelonias,

      How very fortunate that you should have found my blog with photos of your completed sand sculpture. I just tried to e-mail you the pictures I have of your masterpiece. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed seeing the real thing.


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