With a million visitors coming to the Beach over the entire week of the International Sand Sculpting Festival, and the world’s best sculptors carving on the Beach, organizers believe that they have assembled one of the best festivals in the world.
Last year, the three-day festival drew an estimated 800,000 people over the three days of the Festival, according to the State Police, and early estimates are that that was far exceeded.
“I would estimate we exceeded the 800,000 mark for the entire course of the event,” said the Partnership’s John Hamel. “From the time the sand was dropped until the end on Sunday, it was easily over one million visitors…Saturday, by far, is probably the most people the Beach has seen in 100 years. The State Police said there were people all the way from the food trucks to the shoreline. It was pretty incredible. We believe there were 250,000 people there for the fireworks.”
Most impressive, however, to Hamel was what the sculptors said about the festival. Over the years, the Partnership has strove to bring in more accomplished sculptors each year, and many of them are full-time sculptors who see many festivals all over the world.
“We believe we are the largest sand sculpting festival in the world in terms of visitors,” he said. “There are larger festivals in terms of numbers of sculptors and sculptures. It was interesting to hear that more sculptors doesn’t mean better. There is a point of diminishing returns we’ve hit. The sculptors told us we had assembled the cream of the crop of master sculptors in the world – this year more than any other year. We have assembled the world’s best and we’ve reached a place where the quality of our competition is as good or better than any of sand sculpting event in the world.”
With one million visitors on the Beach in a week’s time, hordes of people there on Saturday and the impromptu Boardwalk on the Boulevard brimming with people after dark, many would think it was a recipe for trouble.
However, as has been the case for years, there were no major incidents. Revere Police and State Police kept a strong presence, but not an overwhelming presence.
“We are very pleased with the results from a public safety viewpoint,” said State Police Spokesman Dave Procopio. “We made four arrests over the weekend, all for minor offenses. Providing security for an event as large as the Sand Sculpting Festival is a complicated, highly coordinated effort, and we are grateful to our partners at the Revere and Transit Police, Revere Fire Department, EMS and the DCR for their assistance. We also thank the tens of thousands of people who upheld the spirit of this great event by behaving responsibly and respecting those around them.”
Police Chief Joe Cafarelli said he was glad to work together with all of the policing partners.
“We are happy to report that due to a strong working relationship with the state and transit police we were successful in keeping the entire event enjoyable by all,” he said. “The crowd was peaceful and the traffic, though extremely heavy, was managed well by all agencies. It was a pleasure to play our role in this world class event.”
Hamel said that on the business end, the food trucks, vendors and presenters had a great experience over the three-day period.
“We have heard anecdotally so far that they had an incredible time here and the food trucks told us they had to re-stock several times,” he said. “We’re pretty confident this year exceeded all the vendors’ expectations. That’s important for us. We had to beg people three years ago. This year we had a waiting list and it was important that they do well. It’s safe to say the waiting list will be even longer next year. Even booths like NesQuick and Chrysler, they got great exposure and said they would be back.”
Of course, not all additions and changes turn out as planned.
That was the case with the tethered hot air balloons, which were a pilot project for what is hoped to be an accom
panying hot air balloon sub-festival in the future.
Hamel said the balloon showed up on both Friday and Saturday, but uncertain weather reports on both days did not allow the operator to deploy the balloon.
“We’re going to try again next year and see if there’s a different area or way of doing that,” he said. “There were lines forming to get on the balloon, so people did want to do it. Sometimes changes don’t work out great like the duo competition or the amateur sculpting. We can’t control the weather, but we’ll try it again.”
For now, Hamel and Executive Director Erin Lynch are beginning to look at next year’s Festival. Yet, at the same time, they’re enjoying what was accomplished this year.
“We’re already starting to talk about how we can improve it for next year, but we’re pretty pleased at the place where we’re at right now,” he said.