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, – and of course the pais de resistance – the incredible sand masterpieces by the world’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 Revere’s event is the largest of its kind in the world.
“We’re extremely proud of the event,” said Hamel. “This 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 couldn’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.”
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 “Body Art” sculpture and also claimed the Sculptor’s Choice Award.
“I’ve been coming to Revere for ten years and this is a phenomenal event,” said Belcher. “The people treat you like family and they’re wonderful. The sand that we use is incredible. I can’t imagine not coming here for the festival.”
Alice Gassiraro, secretary of the Revere Society for Cultural and Historic Preservation, said traffic was steady all weekend at the organization’s booth on the boulevard.
“We sold out of Revere Beach t-shirts,” said Gassiraro. “Next year we’ll have to bring more.”
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.
“I remember the Blizzard of ’78 and the destruction that wreaked havoc here and this is my way of giving back to my hometown,” said Hamel. “I think the entire board works really hard at this on an annual basis and I’m so proud of all the efforts of the entire team.”
Mayor Brian Arrigo thanked the Revere Beach Partnership for its efforts.
“Every year, the Sand Sculpting Festival gives us an opportunity to show off everything Revere has to offer,” said Arrigo. “I’m thankful for the Revere Beach Partnership, the sand sculptors, and everyone who works so hard to make the event a reality.”
“My favorite weekend of the year is the Revere Beach sand castle contest because it’s great family fun – I look forward to it all year,” said Michael Andelman of Phantom Gourmet fame. “This is one of the best family events in all of New England.”