By 6am on Saturday, August 6, fifty mounds of sand loomed at the ready along the Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk, from West 10th to West 12th Streets, waiting to be transformed into artistic creations by amateur sand sculptors. Dozens of contestants from the NYC area were vying for cash prizes (not to mention bragging rights) in the 21st Annual Sand Sculpting Contest and Unity Day Celebration, sponsored by Astella Development Corporation and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Throughout the day, contestants sculpted to the sounds of live performances by Andes Fusion, Brooklyn Dance Center, rap artist Madeleine Twyman, Xylopholks Children's Entertatiners, Under the Covers Rock Band, and Santos and the Romantic Four Plus Latin Band. Their creations included everything from a newly married same-sex couple to a Chinese pyramid to Kermit the Frog. There was even one detailed mound of sand dedicated to the McDonald's McCafé beverage.
City officials judged the sculptures in the following five categories: Individual Child, Individual Adult, Adult Group, Child Group, and Mixed (Children and Adults). Prizes included $400 for first place, $200 for second place, and $100 for third.
Some of the winners were as follows:
First place: Olandra Owens of Coney Island's "Whale"
Second place: Cassie Deshong of Coney Island's "Hickory Dickory Dock"
Third place: Rayna Roman of Hazlet, New Jersey's "Ballerina"
First place: Amira and Trinise Owens of Coney Island's "Turtle"
Second place: Zeana Llamas and Samantha Carroll of the Bronx's "Beluga Whale"
Third place: Daniel and Julia Mullen of Brooklyn's "Sea Monster"
See more photos of the event, including the winning sculptures, here.