OGUNQUIT, Maine — Beach bums, sunbathers and boogie boarders had some company at the Ogunquit Main Beach Saturday as nearly 50 contestants in the Parks and Recreation Sand Castle contest cast their creations out of the damp sand.
Organized and coordinated by Select Board member Gary Latulippe, the contest is, Latulippe said, about having some fun.
“I don’t want professionals coming in,” he said. “I want this more for the families.”
Broken into two categories — children and families — the contestants took a number, and free T-shirt for the kids, and raced to the beach to stake a claim to the land and start building.
Most people heard about the contest as they were streaming onto the beach and decided to take part on a whim.
“We heard about it on the speaker,” said Julianna Crocetti, from Bridgewater, Massachusetts, standing in front of her 3-D sailboat. “It took us about an hour.”
During his hourlong walk judging the sculptures, Latulippe said he was looking primarily for creativity to judge winners. There were three winners in both the family and children’s categories and there was some skin in the game.
First-place winners would receive a $100 Shop Ogunquit gift certificate; second-place winners a $50 certificate; and third-place winners a $25 certificate. An additional “People’s Choice” award would get a $50 certificate.
The average time of construction for most contestants was about 90 minutes. Some had intricate castles with towers, parapets and moats, and one was complete with a tennis ball track and a few Spitfires and a P-51 Mustang buzzing the tower.
The builders were eager to show off their work, the kids looking up eagerly at the towering Latulippe and his assembled judges. Several followed him around the beach while he judged the other sculptures, making the selectman look like some kind of beach-bound pied-piper trailing a motley collection of sandy and sun-blasted children.
Latulippe was quick to make sure everyone had fun and listened intently as the builders conscientiously explained the process and inspiration behind their creations.
In front of one of two Olafs, the hapless snowman from Disney’s “Frozen,” Lauren Molloy, 12, and Maggie DiCarlo, 10, both of Braintree, Massachusetts, explained, “Well, he said he wanted to see what summer was like.”
At the next sculpture, when Latulippe asked if the builder had fun, the boy answered that he did, but added, “I’m so tired.”
It was worth it though, as the tired builder won first place in the children’s category for the castle with the ball track and the buzzing World War II planes.