Sandcastles Rise Near San Diego Skyline; Effort Continues to Bring Back IB Competition

The U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge to take place downtown this weekend wanted to buy the name of the IB competition which became the largest of its kind in the world.

Bringing the beach downtown, the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge has moved more than 250 tons of sand to the Broadway Pier in San Diego.

Teams and individuals from Imperial Beach, San Diego, Washington, Ireland, the Netherlands and Italy will compete in the event’s Masters category this Labor Day weekend.

About a dozen teams or individuals, including Imperial Beach’s Sand Squirrels, will also compete in another category.

In its first year, the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge begins in the absence of Imperial Beach’s U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, canceled by local organizers in fall 2011.

First held in 1980, the event at its height drew an estimated 400,000 to Imperial Beach. Over time, it became the largest contest of its kind in the world.

“I’ve met a bunch of people from IB, and they love the contest, and they love playing in the sand,” said Kent Trollen, a professional sand sculptor who organizes and judges competitions.

“They’re just disappointed their event didn’t continue. In the meantime, we’ll get this event going. There’s room in this town for both.”

In one of the San Diego event’s three competitions, Archisand and I.B. Posse will compete in the IB Challenge, which Trollen said was named to honor IB’s legacy.

The IB Challenge will be decided by popular vote.

Competition between the two teams has become a tradition that started in IB and will continue in San Diego.

Year after year, the two traded first place honors over the past decade, creating some of the most extraordinary sculptures at IB competitions. 

Trollen met many of the individuals who will compete this weekend while judging the World Championship of Sand Sculpting last year in Siesta Key, FL.

Shortly after the U.S. Open fell apart, while he was in Florida last November, Trollen said he was contacted by Greg LeBon of Archisand and Gordon Summer, who helped raise funds for the U.S. Open, to create the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge.

“We were trying to work with them to keep it going, but once we saw the budget for security and everything we thought ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money,” Trollen said. “I don’t know how they did it.”

The last competition held in IB cost more than $200,000, . 

Sheriff security , an amount Trollen said he has never paid after organizing more than 20 competitions.

Trollen said Sand Sculpting Challenge organizers tried but were unable to buy the name and website of the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition.

“It’s a business thing,’’ he said.  “We’re running a business here. Down there, it was an all-volunteer thing and just kind of a different approach.

“We fly people in from all over the world. It’s just a whole different ballgame.”

Though similarities exist, here are notable differences between the two:

  • Unlike the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition, U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge spectators are charged admission.
  • Teams will be paid by organizers to compete instead of paying to participate as was the custom in Imperial Beach.
  • Instead of being held on the beach in IB, tons of sand will be imported to Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego.
  • Instead of two days of competitions for kids and adults, sculpted sandcastles will be on-display for four days.
  • Instead of more than 100 vendors lining Seacoast Drive, artists will showcase their sculptures at the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge.
  • Instead of a day devoted to competing kids sandcastles, this weekend’s event will have an area where children can make their own creations.

Like the U.S. Open in IB, the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge will donate part of its proceeds to charities that benefit children.

Efforts to bring a sandcastle competition back to Imperial Beach continue. 

Julia Simms of CHE Marketing, formerly the city’s public relations provider, continues efforts to organize a competition in 2013, possibly under the banner of the once prominent annual .

The first Sun and Sea Festival was held in IB in 1960, and at one point was combined with the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition.

Instead of more than 100 vendors on Palm Avenue, the festival may include a parade. Instead of 400,000 people, organizers want to keep attendance near 40,000.

A meeting will take place next week with city officials to discuss logistics, she said.

Corporate sponsors may fund the event, Simms said.

“Not that we would turn anyone down; that just means people should hang on to their checkbooks for now,” she said.

Those interested in volunteering may contact Deric Fernandez at deric2001@yahoo.com or call 619-400-9037.

Trollen offered to lend a hand to help revive an IB competition.

“We’re still willing to go down and help try to resurrect it if they choose to do so,” Trollen said. “We’re not going to run it for them, but we’re there for them.”

Leonard Gonzalez, captain of I.B. Posse, said he wants to see sandcastles in IB again and was part of a group Simms brought together earlier this year to discuss a future competition.

Gonzalez thinks an annual competition in downtown San Diego could limit the size of any future Imperial Beach competition, but IB could still be a big draw if it’s still free.

“I would really like to keep the sprit alive and keep something going in IB regardless of how successful this San Diego event becomes,” he said.

“IB’s the original San Diego sand sculptor competition, and we need to do what we can to keep it in our community,” said I.B. Posse’s Gonzalez.

Keeping a competition in IB won’t be easy. It may take “a very eager community member or group” or involvement from city leadership, he said.

“Without one of those two things happening, I don’t see it coming back because there’s just so much work involved.”

Should IB get a sandcastle competition going again? Should it be as large as it was in the past? If a competition returns to IB in the future, will the Sand Sculpting Challenge steal IB's thunder? Share why or why not in comments.

Jon Hall August 29, 2012 at 01:28 PM
The Sheriffs held IB hostage here --- they didn't want to do it so it went away ... I can understand their point --- after all, residents here are only paying about $15,000 a day for police protection --- a bargain by any standards (well, maybe not any standards but certainly by Sheriff standards) ...
Libi Uremovic August 29, 2012 at 01:48 PM
"...Sheriff security totaled $90,000,..." check # 79791 issued on 01/20/12 to sd sheriff for sandcastle 2011 - $76,159.76 did we pay $25,000/day or $30,000/day for the 3 day event? exactly how much and what were we charged for....and they can take the sunday helicopter flyover to kick everyone out of town off the bill...
Jon Hall August 29, 2012 at 02:20 PM
The $15,000 a day is WITHOUT any *special event* charges ...
Jon Hall August 29, 2012 at 02:21 PM
For those who believe Sandcastle will ever return to IB the domain name (web site) is up for sale ... http://www.usopensandcastle.com/
Kay Kardian-Porter August 29, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Maybe IB will see how important the Sandcastle was to be held here. Now others will benefit from IB's creation. That is a sad thing very sad. I don't understand how it got away from us. Money? well I have always said charge the people who come in to see the event. That is what San Diego will do..yes I am sad to read that it will be held in San Diego. It belongs to IB and should stay in IB.
Jon Hall August 29, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Kay --- it "got away" because the *City Leaders* (and I use that term very loosely) decided it was not a priority --- that taxpayer money was better spent attempting to make IB into a high-class resort town (which would benefit a few greatly) It should have been no surprise to anyone --- the event was being dismantled for a few years before the "official demise" was announced ...
Shorebird August 29, 2012 at 02:41 PM
complete mismanagement in the final year and IB will lose Sandcastles forever, no one has protected the domain name....and limiting spectators to 40,000 Maybe they should ask their dear friends at Pacifica to assist in saving SandCastles..certainly would give that 4star boutique hotel some nice publicity..oh but perhaps none of the current pockets would be lined with any extra swag
IBD August 29, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Of course the Hotel will try and bring events back into IB, sadly the sherifffs have the law enforcement fees set so high and way to many officers from all the agencies on the clock. No other large event uses that much law enforcement. That is something the city needs to deal with in negotiations in contract. As for other local city events, the city sure hasnt helped out with anything this year.
Libi Uremovic August 29, 2012 at 05:07 PM
bad contracts.....there's a 'stink' in everything our public safety director/fire chief thomas clark touches... ...but mr, clark rests comfortably thanks to $8,10.81 in office furniture from west coast ergonomic design that was purchased on 02/24/11 - ck # 72801...
Kay Kardian-Porter August 30, 2012 at 12:07 AM
I know that sheriff dept is a big joke...the other day I saw a cop car stop a lady . After awhile I saw another cop car drive up..then another ...then another the total of cop cars was four..Did it take four cars to ticket that lady. I see them crusing around out city sitting students down on the sidewalk with three or more cop cars there. If they had a really big crime to deal with my god what would they do..And I also might add many cops in IB are very overweight..whats up with this.
Libi Uremovic August 30, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Yes, it cost $15,000/day every day......plus we pay a $200,000/yr fuel bill that the city says is used by the sheriffs' dept, but i see no credit for fuel use on the check... ...i've requested the fuel logs to show who used the fuel, but the city refuses to turn those over jon - why do you think that is? but there is a credit that runs $400-2,000 every month ...it's the 'two-fee ticket' credit....our sheriff's dept double-tickets and gives the city a kickback... so instead paying $464,608 for april 2012 sheriff's fees we only paid $463,711.93... ...fell better...??
Melissa August 30, 2012 at 06:21 PM
DONT GET ME STARTED ON THE LAW ENFORCEMENT IN IB MY DAUGHTER WAS RAPED AND THE DETECTIVE WENT TO SEE HER AT THE HIGH SCHOOL WITH OUT ME OR AN ADULT AND TOLD HER NOT TO FILE CHARGES!!! THEY ARE LAZY AND HUNT DOWN OUR IB LOCALS.. IB has cleaned up alot! I went to Germany for 8 years came home and fell in love. But quickly realized that the law enforcement were being petty, then after my daughter was rapped and nothing was done I was very upset.
Kay Kardian-Porter August 30, 2012 at 06:30 PM
In ref to libi comment about fuel..no, because the city officials are using the fuel and that is why they will not let you see the fuel logs. They have ways of hiding money they have always done it and will continue to do it until they are out of office which this is the last year of our great mayor which I say loosely, hopefully the other will follow but where can we get good leaders they use IB to up their career for future bigger cities and rob us blind while doing it.
sofia bayardo August 30, 2012 at 09:43 PM
I miss watching the children make their castles, the families having fun at the beach, the smell of BBQ and carne asada all over the place. I miss seeing the residents set up outside their homes with family and friends, demonstrating IB is a great community. I may be wrong but every day I see the news and there are crimes committed every where, why is the SC Competition being labeled as a dangerous event, some say gang infested, thus the reason we need so much security? I have lived in IB about 10 years and am glad I do, it is a great place for my son to grow up in.
Jack Fisher August 31, 2012 at 01:11 AM
I agree that we need to replace the Sheriffs department with OUR OWN IBPD. When I ran for Mayor that was one of my top priorities. The Sheriffs do not know own town or care much about it. Too many time I have been blown off by dispatch when reporting suspicious activities behind the old Miracle Mile shopping center, maybe they were too busy checking on the 300 calls over at the El Camino. SURE..............
Jack Fisher August 31, 2012 at 01:13 AM
....Back on topic. Yes I'm think another city will pick up the contest and reap the rewards such as visitors spending money in the city and all the free PR. Everyone needs to remember this coming election time as our City Government just let this one slip away. Shame on them and us too.
Kay Kardian-Porter August 31, 2012 at 03:16 PM
When I saw the miracle shopping center go down, I cryed, whenever I drive by the vacant lot it still brings a tear to my eye and say to myself this is what the officials in IB has done to our city..they kicked all the businesses out and flattened the foundation they were built on. All is left is a vacant lot just like the officials minds VACANT to what the citizens want. Now they were responsable for the city losing Sandcastle which brought business into our town. What else are they going to destroy before people realize what they are doing? Slowly they are destroying our town with their secret spending. You must ask yourselves since these officials have come into our town and pushed their way in to run this city and destroy what was there withour any replacements any better off than they were before they came? I've less good and more bad. They don't care about the citizens they laugh at you whenever you try to speak at the meetings your a problem to them because they want to steal the monies that is coming into the city and hide it into another place so they can say that the dept was allogated so much money and when that dept don't use all their budget the city officials take it and everyone thinks that it was the certain dept that use up the budget. Unfortunately, our citizens do not fight and unite together to get these people out of office that is the way IB citizens are..when you only have 1200 citizens voting it should tell you something about how they care!!
Salinde August 31, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I was here when Imperial Beach had its own Police Department. Comparatively, it would cost Imperial Beach a lot more, keep in mind the cost is largely driven by the Police Unions, not the Police themselves. In addition, the IB Police Department did absolutely nothing to clean up drugs and gangs in town and was very corrupt. I was here when the Sheriffs Department came to town, they littrtally chased away the motorcycle gangs that infested the beach area, drugs were a lot bigger problem in town then they are now, I can go on and on ...I am no fan of law enforcement, but the Sheriff has actually done a lot for this town. A hell of a lot more then the IB Police Department ever did!
Kay Kardian-Porter August 31, 2012 at 07:47 PM
I was no speaking about the sheriff dept..I was speaking about the City Officials that make decision about IB. All the cops do is arrest people and hastle students.
Kay Kardian-Porter August 31, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Thanks for the comment JF...shame on them...
Libi Uremovic August 31, 2012 at 10:45 PM
the bill is actually $14,000/day for sheriff services and another $27,000/month 'administration fee'....$324,000/ yr is padding the bill before we even look at the crummy contract..
Libi Uremovic August 31, 2012 at 11:08 PM
"...When I saw the miracle shopping center go down, I cryed,..." the number of checks issued in the last 2 years with '9/palm' memos is staggering....legal fees, contractors, consultants, and massive payoffs to the businesses that were uprooted... i've been asked about auditing the 9th/palm project and the answer is: when the bills stop coming in i'll add them up, but the bills are still coming in... ... check # 80668 cut on 06/08/12 to 'patriot general engineering' for $72,161.28 with a '02/24/12' invoice date....
Jack Fisher September 01, 2012 at 05:28 AM
I have lived here sice the old IBPD days and I do agree that they were not much help to clean up the drugs and gangs. The costs to bring back the IBPD would even out in the long run, with a huge amount to help start it but less to kep it running each year.
Duke September 01, 2012 at 01:20 PM
The city needs to get rid of the Sheriffs Dept and return to our own PD. I believe the city manager about three years ago said it would be a wise and profitable move to get rid of them. I'm not sure who that MNGR was at the time but I tend to believe he was correct. With our current administration that will never happen. Lets move to rid ourselves of this overbearing financial burden and of the politicians who are only out to line their own pockets.
Salinde September 02, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Sorry folks even if IB were to it's own PD, they still have to contract with either SDPD or Sheriffs, as do all of the towns with thier own local PDs, ie. Coronado , Chula Vista, Carlsbad, etc...these police departments are not equipped to handle bank robberies, murders, swat team type work, etc....so they are typically handled by one of th other agencies. Also, NO city manager has ever stated it would be cheaper to bring back IB Police Department. Libi is always complaining about something with yet posts nothing to substantiate any or her posts. If you want to make an impact post in conjunction how much it's costs Coronado or La Mesa to run ther own departments for the citizens of IB can make informed decisions. Whining and complaining doesn't do anyone any good.
Shorebird September 03, 2012 at 06:58 PM
If you are going to compare costs how about comparing taxpaying, registered voters base..IB has a large population of military who are not registered to vote in California and who do not pay taxes her. They are registered in their home state,and many more civilians who are non-voters and non-taxpayers to the city or state.


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