By Cary Shuman
The International Sand Sculpting Festival reached another milestone with one million visitors attending the event at Revere Beach.
With three hot, sun-drenched summer days, people walked the boulevard to enjoy food, music, and amusements, â€“ and of course the pais de resistance â€“ the incredible sand masterpieces by the worldâ€™s best sand sculptors.
A rainstorm late Saturday afternoon prompted officials to reschedule the fireworks for Sunday night.
John Hamel, chairman of the festival and a board member of the Revere Beach Partnership that organizes the entire event, said crowd estimates for the course of the entire event exceeded one million. Hamel said Revereâ€™s event is the largest of its kind in the world.
â€œWeâ€™re extremely proud of the event,â€ said Hamel. â€œThis is our 13th year and the turnout has been spectacular. The event has grown each year and this is once again another record-breaking year for us. As someone who grew up in Revere, I couldnâ€™t be prouder of the sculptures that are gracing the beach and the number of people who are walking along the boardwalk or enjoying a summer day on the beach.â€
The theme of the sand sculpture competition was science, technology and innovation. Thirty sculptors in singles and duos categories vied for $30,000 in cash prizes.
Dan Belcher of St. Louis and Marianne van den Broek of Key West, Fla., took first place for their â€œBody Artâ€ sculpture and also claimed the Sculptorâ€™s Choice Award.
â€œIâ€™ve been coming to Revere for ten years and this is a phenomenal event,â€ said Belcher. â€œThe people treat you like family and theyâ€™re wonderful. The sand that we use is incredible. I canâ€™t imagine not coming here for the festival.â€
Alice Gassiraro, secretary of the Revere Society for Cultural and Historic Preservation, said traffic was steady all weekend at the organizationâ€™s booth on the boulevard.
â€œWe sold out of Revere Beach t-shirts,â€ said Gassiraro. â€œNext year weâ€™ll have to bring more.â€
Hamel said he and members of the Revere Beach Partnership were proud to volunteer for the community and promote Revere Beach to an international audience.
â€œI remember the Blizzard of â€™78 and the destruction that wreaked havoc here and this is my way of giving back to my hometown,â€ said Hamel. â€œI think the entire board works really hard at this on an annual basis and Iâ€™m so proud of all the efforts of the entire team.â€
Mayor Brian Arrigo thanked the Revere Beach Partnership for its efforts.
â€œEvery year, the Sand Sculpting Festival gives us an opportunity to show off everything Revere has to offer,â€ said Arrigo. â€œIâ€™m thankful for the Revere Beach Partnership, the sand sculptors, and everyone who works so hard to make the event a reality.â€
â€œMy favorite weekend of the year is the Revere Beach sand castle contest because itâ€™s great family fun â€“ I look forward to it all year,â€ said Michael Andelman of Phantom Gourmet fame. â€œThis is one of the best family events in all of New England.â€