Dolphins, Dinosaurs and Dragons Dominate Sandcastle Contest


Rockaway’s got sand talent! It came out strong during The Rockaway Times’ 4th Annual Rockaway Sandcastle Contest on Sunday, August 4. From dolphins to dinosaurs and messages to save our sea life to interactive sand games, there was no end to the creativity among participants that left judges and spectators saying, “wow!”

Although the contestant pool wasn’t as big this year with the contest date being pushed back a week, there was no shortage of quality on Beach 117th Street. About 26 groups participated in this year’s contest. Each contestant had two hours to make whatever they wanted using sand and things found on the beach. After everyone wrapped up, the judges had the hard decision of who would go home with the top prizes. This year, the judges included the new Queens Parks Commissioner, Michael Dockett, Alex Zablocki, Executive Director of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy and Rockaway Times freelance writer and photographer, Nicole Taylor Lang. After critiquing each creation, the judges took some time to deliberate before making a decision.

This year, thanks to the donations from several local businesses, The Rockaway Times was once again able to have first, second, third and fourth place winners in each age category. Thanks to American Princess Cruises, Whit’s End, Coastal Frozen Yogurt, Carvel, Pizza D’Amore, Mara’s Ice Cream Parlor, the Belle Harbor Steakhouse and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, which all donated gift certificates and other goodies, the winners got to go home with some incredible prizes, in addition to trophies provided by The Rockaway Times. 

With 12 groups competing, the competition was tough among those in the age eight and under category. However, an interactive seahorse game where contestants could roll a ball down a sandy lane and try to land in a seashell for points, was the clear winner. This first-place creation was made by Connor, Lauren, Owen Hayden, Maggie Butler and Timmy Nichtern. Teresa and Emma Mici’s interpretation of Central Park and the Bronx Zoo earned them second place. In third was Bella and Beldon Mai for their Clean Up NY message. Shua and Uri Paneth’s Octoboss earned them fourth.

In the age nine to 15 category, Keira, Finnian, Lauren and Tessarose Sullivan and Sofia Pesso sent a very important message to “Save the Sea Life” as they had a monster full of plastic chasing after sea creatures. This message and their creative portrayal earned them first place. In second was Uma Hameed with her Rockaway Barbie and train creation. Sydney McFarlane and Ilaria Perrine had another important portrayal of what could happen to the environment with “Our Earth’s Fate,” which earned them third place. And our honorable mention went to Andrew and Madison Shamloo for their sand Minion.

The 16 and up category always impresses, and this year was no different. There were many amazing pieces, but the judges had the tough job of only picking four winners out of eight groups. This year, first place went to Christine, Clover and Saige McFarlane for their dolphin jumping out of a wave. In second was a huge pyramid creation by Bill and Jayden McClernon. Bruce Johanns created an ultra-realistic dinosaur, which earned him third. The runner-up was Carla King and Greg Ferraro’s detailed dragon.

While those were the big winners, no one went home empty handed as everyone got to take home a souvenir medal and sunglasses.

The 4th Annual Rockaway times Sandcastle Contest was made possible by The Rockaway Times, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and contributions by Councilman Eric Ulrich. A special thanks goes to the new Rockaway Administrator for Parks, Eric Peterson, who did a stand-up job with announcements during the contest. This year’s contest was dedicated in memory of Tommy Nichtern, a participant who helped his family win in the 2017 contest. Nichtern passed away earlier this year.

Congratulations to all of our winners! We hope to see you next year!