Talent Shines at The Rockaway Times Sandcastle Contest


Give them sand, and they will build. And they sure did. From mermaids to whales to monsters and even a fidget spinner and skeeball, Rockaway showed that they know how to master the sand. The 2nd Annual Rockaway Times Sandcastle Contest was a huge hit.

The 2nd Annual event was even bigger and better than last year. More than 40 groups came down to Beach 117th on a beautiful Sunday, July 30, to put their skills to the test, nearly doubling the amount of competitors from last year. Participants were given medals for the efforts as well as sunglasses from The Rockaway Times, plus water and lemonade to keep them hydrated, courtesy of Stop and Shop. But only the top three in three different age categories took home trophies and prizes. The Rockaway Times provided sandcastle trophies to the winners, but this year, with the help of local businesses, they went home with something more. A huge thanks is in order for Lana’s Loft, Uncle Louie G’s of Rockaway Beach, The Fat Cardinal Bakery and Carvel of Beach 116th Street for donating gift certificates and to Life Eclectic Apparel for donating a gift pack of a t-shirt, a blanket and a tote bag, and American Princess Cruises for donating passes for their amazing Whale Watching Adventure cruise. The extra incentives served as great motivation for participants to do their best work, and they sure did.

Participants had two hours to create their masterpieces before judges had the tough decision of picking the best ones. Casey Brouder, founder of Poseidon’s Parade, Alex Zablocki, Executive Director of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy and Sophia Skeans, Vice President of the Rockaway Artists Alliance Board, were given the task of judging and with so many impressive pieces, it wasn’t easy.

In the 8 and Under category, Tim and Tommy Nichtern, and Connor and Owen Hayden, made an interactive skeeball game out of the sand, which viewers could actually play, earning them first place. Zain and Rayaan Qureshi’s turtle earned them second and Bella and Beldon Mai’s beetle took third place.  There was some tough competition in the 9 to 15 age category with 16 different groups in the running.  However Trevor Benjamin, Jason and Xiceate Calvache, Sylvia Mastros and Diana Rivera paid homage to the popular new toy, the fidget spinner, earning them first place. Rockaway mermaids Lauren Ueira, Tessa and Finnian Sullivan, and Elizabeth Werther made a mermaid of their own, which took second place. Madison and Andrew Shamloo and Danny Fleming’s starfish earned them third.  The adult category, 16 and up, was also a tough one to judge with so many great pieces. Taner Seyt and Emil Seitmouratov took inspiration from the humpback whale that washed up on the beach back in April and recreated it, making them this year’s first place winners in the adult category. Christine McFarlane, with the help of Clover, Saige and Harmony, created a beautiful, detailed mermaid, which took home second place.  Last but not least, Jessica McMilleon’s octopus earned her third place in the adult category.

Thanks to everyone who came out and made this a great event! All of the participants put in hard work. Special thanks also goes out to Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office for donating the funding for buckets and shovels, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato for coming out to show her support, the Rockaway Business Alliance and most importantly, Portia Dyrenforth, Rockaway Administrator for the Department of Parks and Recreation, and all of the Parks Staff that helped make this event possible.  Can’t wait until next year!

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