The Swinerton Foundation


Supersized Sandcastles Transform Ocean Beach

Contributor: Swinerton Blogger   |   November 11, 2013
Supersized Sandcastles Transform Ocean Beach

On Saturday, San Francisco’s Ocean Beach became a giant artists’ palette as teams competed to create sandy masterpieces for the 30th annual Leap Sandcastle Contest, a community art project on a grand scale and fundraiser for Leap’s arts education programs. Students from elementary schools across the Bay Area and their families teamed up with professional builders, architects, and engineers—including Swinerton Builders—to design and create gargantuan sand sculptures. Elevating the cherished beach activity of sandcastle building to a true art form, the sculptures were built on 20-by-20-foot plots of sand and took shape through the creative effort of dozens of volunteers, from tiny tots to seasoned pros.

For this year’s theme of “Masterpieces in Sand,” Swinerton partnered with Cody Anderson Wasney Architects and Sunnyvale Elementary School to create a larger-than-life scene from the Roald Dahl classic, James and the Giant Peach. Volunteer sand artists spent the day hauling buckets of water up from the surf, shoveling sand to form shapes, stomping on sand to pack it, and carving details to bring the sculptures to life. Other masterpieces included the pyramids and sphinx of Giza, Moby Dick swallowing a boat, the Great Wall of China, a fearsome dragon surrounding a castle, the San Francisco skyline, and the Statue of Liberty.

Originally scheduled to take place last month, the contest was postponed due to the government shutdown (Ocean Beach is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area). But it all worked out in the end, as the rescheduled date fell on one of the rare sunny days on the San Francisco coast. Organizers extimate that this year’s event drew a crowd of 10,000 people and raised around $230,000 for Leap’s school-based arts programing. Thanks to the dedicated work of volunteers and sponsors, the kids’ imaginations, and glorious weather, the 2013 Leap Sandcastle Contest truly was a masterpiece!

-By Madigan Talmage-Bowers