NEW YORK (AP) — Castles and other sandy sculptures rose into the Coney Island air Saturday, vying for best creations under the Brooklyn boardwalk.
In super-competitive New York City, more than 70 people aimed to outdo each other at the 24th annual Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest. Winners were to be announced later in the day.
There was another best-of in this contest: Organizers said the sand on Brooklyn's waterfront is some of the finest in the country, its grain and silt absorbing the ocean water so the intricate sculptures hold up. Experts say they can build several feet higher on Coney Island than elsewhere in the New York area.
Armed with molds, tools and hoses, competitors included four professionals who have traveled the world building sand castles from Japan to Brazil and all over the United States.
Proceeds from sponsors — both community groups and private entities — will benefit Coney Island residents still rebuilding from the 2012 Superstorm Sandy that decimated the boardwalk and destroyed houses and businesses.
The boardwalk is now rebuilt as part of the redevelopment of the Coney Island amusement park zone that for generations served as the "People's Playground," slowly deteriorating into a crumbling, gritty neighborhood.
Today, its landmark wooden Cyclone roller coaster still elicits screams of white-knuckled joy amid a new assembly of high-tech, Italian-designed rides.
Past entries in the sand have included a Cyclone complete with riders, as well as elephants, a pride of lions, and even giant brains and a treasure chest overflowing with bones and skulls.
On Saturday, thousands of spectators stopped to admire the ephemeral art opposite Deno's Wonder Wheel.
The contest was divided into various categories, from adults and children to whole families. The first prize in each comes with $500, while runners-up get T-shirts, according to event spokesman Nish Suvarnakar. He said the six judges are a mix of artists and community leaders.
At the end of the day, everyone walks away, leaving the sculptures to disintegrate back onto the beach.