For a weekend each July, hundreds of people flock to Imperial Beach in San Diego County for the U.S. Open Sand Castle Competition. This is a huge affair, and contestants come from all over the country. And, just so you're up on local lingo, we call Imperial Beach I.B. for short. (Useless trivia: Actor Matthew Modine went to high school in IB.)
Okay, back to the sand castles. It's a whole weekend festival with a parade and street music and a couple of sound stages and vendors and a pancake breakfast on the beach and fireworks. Seacoast Drive is closed to traffic. There's an Annual Kids 'N Kastles competition for youngsters 12 and under.
This past summer (July 14-18), the competition behind the competition was the big battle between a local team (Team I.B. Posse) and an Orange County team (Team Archisand). Ooooh. Team Archisand had taken first place six out of the last eight years.
BUT NOT IN 2008, when our local team wowed judged with their sand sculpture of "a gas tank that's actually attacking patrons, and we got an electric car that's coming to the rescue." (This description is from Leonard Gonzales, enthusiastic I.B. Posse team member.)
Teams at the Masters Level take take sand sculpting seriously. Not that they aren't having fun as well. But, for example, they choose a design weeks in advance, then divide the design into sections and assign different team members to sections. Next, they hold practice sessions. When it comes to the big day, teams have from 8:30 am when the air horn blasts to 1:30 pm to build their masterpiece. They're racing against time and the sun and the tide. (Odd trivia: Something I never thought of, but builders are working so fast and furiously that there have been shovel injury incidents where people have actually had to drop out of the competition.)
The building takes place on Imperial Beach near Seacoast Drive and the pier. Spectator tickets are free. Parking is tough. But for a donation to the football team, you can park at Mar Vista High School on Coronado Avenue near Fifth Street.
For more info: 619-424-6663 and here's the website (which is currently under construction):
US Open Sandcastles
Oh, I forgot to mention that there are cash prizes. So, you could go play with a trowel and plastic straws and makeup brushes in your kid's sandbox. A win could pay for your trip out here.
Now, you should all trot off to Travis Erwin, the guy who spearheads My Town Mondays. He'll have a list of links to other Mondayers.
I'm leaving you with a shot of an amazing sand sculpture.