Web Extra: Sand Blasts
See related: Sandsational!
June 2011 Texas Highways features a story on the AIA Sandcastle Competition in Galveston, along with Port Aransas’ Texas SandFest and South Padre Island’s Sand Castle Days. Here, Helen Anders provides the scoop on learning to build a castle of your own.
Walter McDonald, better known in South Padre Island as The Amazin' Walter, remembers learning to make a sandcastle when he was a Boy Scout.
"We were on the beach, and a kid showed me how to make little dribble things," he says. "I've been dribbling ever since."
He's far too humble. As one of Texas' veteran sand sculptors, McDonald now enjoys teaching others the tricks of his trade, such as building arches and using a variety of tools, including a pastry knife, for details.
"I teach kids of all ages," says McDonald. "I had one lady and we built a castle for her 85th birthday, and we have a date for her 95th."
McDonald's colleague Lucinda Wierenga, better known on South Padre as Sandy Feet, says she loves watching the light-bulb moments for her sand-sculpting students.
"Once they get the trick, the delight and sense of accomplishment is real and obvious," she says. “People realize,” she adds, “that they can just cut away what they don't like—or start all over.” McDonald and Wierenga both typically charge $75 an hour for lessons.
"I remember how excited I was when I learned to carve sand and want to pass that excitement on to others," says Mark Landrum, known as the Port Aransas Sand Castle Guy, who charges $60 for lessons that take between an hour and an hour and a half. "The thing I enjoy most about giving lessons is seeing families work and play together to create memories that will last all their lives. There is a lot more to sandcastles than just sand."
Contact Walter McDonald at 956/761-5943; Lucinda Wierenga at 956/459-2928; and Mark Landrum at 361/290-0414, www.sandrum.com. —Helen Bryant