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Sand Alone

Revere Beach hosts annual New England Sand Sculpting Festival


Leonardo Da Vinci must have played with sand; perhaps he molded a version of one of his elegant flying machines with it. So no doubt he would have appreciated his huge sand sculpture likeness rising out of Revere Beach at a past New England Sand Sculpting Festival. He might even have joined this weekend’s competition.

A dozen sculptors started their sand work yesterday, toiling from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., each allotted 10 tons of sand. They’re fashioning towering figures along the sandy urban shore, turning Revere Beach into a giant, albeit impermanent, sand sculpture garden using only buckets, shovels, and seawater. And when the competition ends Saturday evening, their work will slowly tumble back into the beach.

Dan Belcher, from Missouri, has been building professional sandcastles since 1990. He recalls playing with his brothers in their backyard sandbox when he was two or three years old. Since then, his solo and team sand projects have taken him across continents.

“With any construction project, if you want to make something big you’re going to be moving a lot of sand,” he says. “It’s a lot of work and a lot of play.”

Sue McGrew, from Washington state, stumbled on sand sculpting later in life and it became a hobby. She says she’s addicted to sand.

Dan Doubleday, from Florida, was “discovered” on a beach in California building sandcastles with his children. Another sculptor saw Doubleday’s skill and suggested he join an international master’s tournament; he has won multiple titles since.

These and other sand artists will be working at the beach all day today and tomorrow, July 18, completing their fantastic creations. The festival has become a major draw; approximately 250,000 people come most years, attracted by food and craft vendors as well as beach and sculptures. Funds raised from the festival (corporate sponsorships and fees paid by vendors) benefit the Revere Beach Partnership, preserving what is known as the oldest public beach in America.

More information about participating sculptors is available here.

To get to Revere Beach, take the Green Line to Government Center, then the Blue Line to the Revere Beach stop. The trip takes about an hour from Boston University. By car, from downtown Boston take the William F. McClellan Highway, also known as Route 1A north, through East Boston. Turn onto Route 16, take a right on Beach Street, a left on Ocean Avenue, then a right on Revere Beach Boulevard.

Anna Webster can be reached at annaweb@bu.edu.

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