By Pamela Cody
Special to the PRESS
The climate in South Padre Island does not exactly lend itself to snowman building. However, one of our local sand sculptors has made certain visitors and residents can enjoy the experience in sand form.
World renowned award winning sand artist, SPI’s own Lucinda “Sandy Feet” Wierenga, has once again brought the holidays to life with the second installment of the SPI Holiday Sandcastle Village. Last year’s inaugural effort was such a rousing success that this year, the village has moved from the Convention Center to the heart of the entertainment district, located in front of Louie’s Backyard and adjacent to the Island’s Ferris wheel.
Wierenga spoke about what it took to bring the Holiday Sandcastle Village to life, and some of the obstacles she and her fellow sand carver’s faced.
“A total of 9 sculptors, including myself, worked on this year’s village. The bulk of the work was completed in about 10 days, though I continued to work on it through the end of October and into November.”
Wierenga says being located right in the middle of the entertainment district made sense for a lot of reasons, but also presented some challenges.
“The drainage ditch running through the middle of the tent was greatly mitigated by the city workers, but one unexpected challenge was the local feral cat population, who seem to think we put the installation there just for their pleasure,” said Lucinda.
When asked what the inspirations were for the different designs included in this year’s sandcastle village, Wierenga replied “I wanted to have more cohesion, and give it more of a local twist this year. Thus, the turtle lady and the sea turtle she rescued on Christmas Eve – such a great story. And there is also the story of Santa making his list, and Mrs. Claus checking it twice.”
The “turtle lady” Wierenga referred to is Ila Loetscher, a local icon known for her efforts in the care and preservation of sea turtles. Loetscher founded Sea Turtle, Inc, a local non profit corporation whose mission is protecting, preserving and rescuing sea turtles. Sea Turtle, Inc has since become one of the largest sea turtle centers in the world. The likeness of Loetscher that was created from sand for this year’s sandcastle village is nothing short of miraculous, perfectly capturing her image.
The Holiday Sandcastle Village is scheduled to stay up until January 10. The exhibit is free and opens at noon, but Wierenga says you will want to come back from 6 to 9 p.m. every night for the accompanying light show.
On a personal note, Wierenga expressed gratitude to the city of South Padre Island and the community for supporting her efforts.
“I am really grateful to the town as well as our local sponsors (who are featured around Santa’s throne) for giving me the opportunity to create this exhibition – it was very satisfying.” Wierenga also reported that photo opportunities will soon be available, so check their Facebook page for the schedule for photos with sandy Santa on the village throne.