A 2019 photo from the contest depicts a monster trapped behind bars.
Photo by Derrick Watterson
COURIER LIFE, AUGUST 13-19, 2021 3
BY MEAGHAN MCGOLDRICK
Organizers of the annual
Coney Island Sand Sculpting
Contest have put the kibosh
on this year’s milestone competition,
citing a current rise
in cases of the Delta variant
and the “high level of touchpoints”
in the contest.
“The decision was sort of
two-fold,” said Alliance Executive
Director Alexandra Silversmith.
“We talked about it a few
months ago with co-organizer
Brooklyn Community Services
and said, ‘We’ll see where the
world is.’ Now, Delta cases are
arriving and it just feels a little
bit wrong to put people together
like this, mostly because
of the touch-points. Similarly,
we didn’t have ample time to
put together a great event and
make sure we had the proper
precautions in place.”
The last sculpt-off took
place in August, 2019, marking
the event’s 29th competition —
something Silversmith said organizers
took into account as
they prepared for their 30th anniversary.
“We want to focus on putting
together a really good event for
next year, which hopefully will
be the best Sand Sculpting Contest
yet,” she said, calling the
gathering “a gem of the summer.”
Each year, artists hit the
sand between W. 10th and W.
12th streets to create their
gritty masterpieces — each
more different and outlandish
than the other. The most recent
iteration included a statue of
an outstretched woman facedown
on the ground, which
won in the individual adult
category, and an intricate castle
decorated with fl owers and
sand dye, which took home best
statue by a group of adults.
Winners of the three categories
— family, adult group, and
individual — each take home
various prizes, but for many
sculptors, the joy doesn’t come
“My favorite part was seeing
the competition,” participant
John Sanders told Brooklyn
Paper in 2019.
The news comes as the peninsula’s
continues to welcome visitors
after its lost summer of 2020,
and as arts non-profi t Coney
Island USA gears up for the
triumphant return of the Mermaid
Parade. The 39th rendition
of the nautical arts festival
is set to take over the People’s
Playground on Sept. 12 after
bringing the event online in
2020 due to the coronavirus.
It also comes as COVID-19
cases continue to surge across
the country and, notably, in
The most recent city testing
data shows the 11224 zip code
— comprising Brighton Beach,
Coney Island, and Seagate —
boasts a seven-day COVID-19
infection rate of 5.12 percent
from Aug. 2 and Aug. 8. Last
week,Mayor Bill de Blasio announced
a shift in methodology
when it comes to tracking
the spread of COVID-19.
Rather than post the 7-day
positivity rate by neighborhood
on its site, the city’s Health Department
is now listing case
averages for general areas per
100,000 residents. At the top of
the list for Brooklyn is Coney’s
zip code, which saw 167 new
cases per 100,000 people from
Aug. 2 through Aug. 8. Meanwhile,
less than half of the area’s
residents — 45.35 percent
— were fully vaccinated as of
Aug. 8, per city data.
While it remains unclear
if the 2021 Mermaid Parade
will march on (Coney Island’s
unoffi cial mayor Dick Zigun
told Brooklyn Paper to check
back next week), in the meantime,
Silversmith said, she and
the Alliance are looking ahead.
“We’re sad to not host it
again but we really look forward
to next year being spectacular,”
Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest
nixed due to rise in COVID-19 cases
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