By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Despite a recent red tide bloom, thousands are expected to flock to South Padre Island to celebrate the 28th Annual Sandcastle Days.
The Island is uniquely ideal for the event, explains Lucinda Wierenga, who is more commonly known as Sandy Feet. “We have really good sand here for sandcastle building,” she said. Sand doesn’t need to be brought in from elsewhere to create the works of art, but can be harvested directly on the beach itself.
Ten master sculptors from around the world will vie against each other to produce sculptures in hopes of winning the People’s Choice Award, Wierenga said. One sculptor is coming from Holland, while another is coming from Canada, she said. There will be several amateur teams competing, too. “There are 8 -10 amateur teams, many of which are talented in their own right,” she said.
The artists will begin carving on Thursday and voting for People’s Choice will take place all weekend. There will be plenty of family fun, too. Vendors will be on hand selling artwork, jewelry and more. Kids will be able to enjoy inflatable bounce houses , and live music will keep people moving to the beat.
Wierenga, who has participated in the event since its inception, says she expects Sandcastle Days to draw a large crowd, despite a bloom of red tide that has had some across the Island reaching for their dust masks. “This year has been a very mild outbreak of red tide,” she said. In years past, 20,000 to 30,000 have come to the beach to see the larger-than-life sculptures.
Wierenga says the effects of the red tide aerosols are intermittent — less noticeable in the mornings until the winds shift in the afternoon. “It’s a mild irritation and a cough,” she said.
Still, she encourages people to come out to have fun and view the sculptures. “I hope everyone will come out,” she said. Once completed, the sculptures may remain standing for up to a month, depending on weather. “It’s not every day you get to see something like this.”
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