Sculptures emerge from the sand at Walnut Beach
Turtles, a car, a number of castles and even a Game of Thrones chair were among the more than 60 creations that emerged from the sand Saturday at Walnut Beach in Milford for the 42nd annual Milford Arts Council’s sand sculpture contest.
At the end of the day, it was a tribute to UConn’s return to the Big East Conference that took the People’s Choice award and the Jose family’s “Dragon Sea Serpent” that took Best in Show.
Sunny skies greeted the participants, who came armed with shovels, rakes, pails and some of the more intricate tools for creating art out of sand.
“People have been studying the art of sand sculpting,” said local radio personality Brian Smith, who emcees the annual contest, as he looked around the beach.
Greg Troisi and his family created a Pokémon, and Troisi said he did indeed go online to research sand building techniques. He and his wife, Anna, and children, Charlotte and Nathan, both 7, brought straws for blowing the sand from fine lines, plus small paint brushes and even chopsticks to get the details right.
“We were going for obscure,” Troisi said about their sand creation. “But some people actually knew what it was.”
The Klinga family came armed with “teamwork,” they said, to create a fish eating another fish. They built a large mound of sand and then used shovels and other tools to carve straight edges.
Dan and Rebekkah Hurlbert said they didn’t use a lot of tools, mostly patting the sand by hand and using their fingers to create the faces in their “Turtle Family Vacation.” Their sand sculpture included three adult turtles and eight babies: Father turtle studied a map while teen turtle distracted itself with headphones.
Scattered around the beach, which attracted throngs of people — the most in the history of the competition, according to Smith —were cats, sharks, a horseshoe crab, and even a car.
The Connors family took a prize for their car, called “Road to Ruins.” Bridgit Connors said her team used shovels and some basic carpentry tools for smoothing the sand. The best buy that morning was a water sprayer they picked up at Home Depot to spray the sand to keep it wet.
The Mastriano family used masonry tools, including trowels, to build the Iron Throne from the Game of Thrones series. Chris Mastriano came up with the idea for the throne, and Cindy Mastriano didn’t think anyone would know what it was.
“I insisted no one would know, but people walked by and said, ‘Oh, the Game of Thrones’,” she said.
Several families worked together to create the “UConn Big East” sculpture, featuring the UConn mascot — the Glynn, Bonanno, Alves, Fairty and Gomes families, after coming up with the idea the night before. Like many of the other sand sculptors, they outlined their space in the sand, building a sort of moat, and dug their sculpting sand from there.
Organizers said it was a great turnout and a great event. Richard Stephen, business manager for the Milford Arts Council, said there were 34 entries in the family category alone.
“There was a very good crowd,” Stephen said, pointing out some of his favorites, like a tree stump created by a man who does tree work.
Following is the list of winners compiled by the arts council.
Ages 9 and under: 3rd, “The Island” by Sophia and Lillian; 2nd, “Pumpkin Patch” by Aria O’Connor, and 1st, “Basketball Turtle” by Maddy, Emma, Cayleigh and Brendan.
Ages 10 to 15: 3rd, “Breakfast at the Beach” by Ashley Folloni; 2nd, “Baby Turtle Finds Mom” by Avary Alves and Ella Fairty, and 1st, “Yoshi and Packman” by Hope Momer.
Ages 16 and up: 3rd, “Big Thumbs Up” by Chuck Freed; 2nd, “Sand Alien” by Ron Warzel, and 1st, “Lunar Lander 50th” by Brad Conant.
Friends and Clubs: 3rd, “UConn Husky” by the Bonnano, Glynn families and others; 2nd, “Hailey Hippo and Baby Hector” by the Bellon and Serrano families, and 1st, “Falcor” by Team Ninja Aden.
Family: 3rd, “Jaguar and Crocodile” by the Wardz family; 2nd, “Road to Ruin” by the Connors family, and 1st, “Pooh On the Half Shell” by the Gordon family.
Best In Show: “Sea Serpent.”
People’s Choice: “UConn Husky.”