U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition in Imperial Beach, CA July 22-24

Imperial Beach Sandcastle Competition

When I was a kid growing up in San Diego, my family used to take a trip to Imperial Beach every July to witness something truly spectacular – the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition. The outing would bring back back memories of our family vacations in St. Croix, where my dad would build my sister and I lovely sandcastles on the beach every day. All he used were buckets, sand and water, and yet he managed to create remarkable sandcastles complete with turreted towers, moats, windows and courtyards. Truly magical.

Extraordinary Detail Work

The sandcastles at Imperial Beach, however, are more than just magical — they are truly works of art, masterpieces that look as though even the always encroaching sea waves can never touch. Hour after hour, the artists sweat in the hot sun using delicate “sand scalpels,” spray bottles, brushes, buckets and even tooth brushes. Graceful arches are measured and balanced so as not to topple, realistic-looking windows you want to peek into are carefully carved out and spiraling staircases gradually wind their way up turrets; they look so real that I could imagine a princess walking down them. Castles were not the only works being created from the sand – fantastic-looking sea monsters, humorous cartoons and replications of famous paintings could all be found on the beach. As a young teenager, I once read that Michelangelo remarked that he carved his sculptures by simply chipping away the excess stone to reveal the figure inside. This is what watching some of the sand artists felt like.

At the end of the competition, the castles are left to to be weathered by wind, sun and water. Most people let them be and merely walk by in admiration and respect.

If you have the time, do attend this remarkable event with friends and family. It’s a joyous celebration of talent, whimsy and artistic expression that will not soon be forgotten.

Photos: Port of San Diego

Port of San Diego

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