Get out your buckets, shovels and rakes. The digging of Hunting Island State Park's fourth annual Sand Sculpture Building Contest begins at 1 p.m. Saturday.
More than 100 people will hit the beach to begin building a lot more than sand castles, said Nancy Grimaldi, event chairwoman. Grimaldi serves on the board of the event sponsor, Friends of Hunting Island.
Larger-than-life hula skirt-wearing mermaids, miniature replicas of the Hunting Island lighthouse, oversized sharks and a train are among previous winners. Participants are given two hours to reshape the beach into sand sculptures while being serenaded with beach music by The Heritage Steel Band. Grimaldi is amazed at the creations she's seen.
"Last year a train won Best in Show," she said. "It was wonderful. I didn't realize what a big deal this sand sculpture thing is. There are huge competitions."
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In 2009, eight members of the Boondocks Restaurant and Sports Bar family and one child took the restaurant's 3-foot-tall mascot pelican, Boonie Bird, to the competition to use as a reference for their sand sculpture.
"They wrote the name 'Boondocks' below it using our font," said Joe Ferguson, a co-owner of the business.
The group -- including restaurant staff, customers and family members -- is gearing up to participate again this year, Ferguson said. Grimaldi hopes more teams of businesses and families get involved this year.
"We usually have teams of about two or three people per entry and about 25 entries," Grimaldi said. "Any business or group who would like to get some teams going are encouraged to register."