On Saturday, the Virgin Islands Justice Initiative hosted the first of the soon-to-be annual Sandcastle Festival at Brewers Bay on St. Thomas, which brought a whirlwind of fun and excitement. The initiative looks forward to hosting the tournament next year after Memorial Day Weekend.
This year the tournament was held from noon to 4 p.m., and aimed to create a wonderful family-friendly gathering that would unite the community.
Team Sandtastic, known for their sand sculpting expertise, played a crucial role in making the festival a success. They carved an awe-inspiring sculpture that stood prominently at the front of the competition area.
Team Sandtastic generously shared their expertise by providing participants with helpful pointers to guide them in creating their highly creative and intricate sandcastle designs.
The tournament featured two categories: Kids and Family, and the main event, the V.I. Sandcastle Competition, was exclusively for adults. As crowds of people gathered on the beach, they watched in amazement as the sculptors skillfully transformed piles of sand into remarkable masterpieces. The sandcastles ranged from human-sized toilet sculptures to imaginative combinations of sea creatures and local wildlife, such as iguanas, octopuses, whales, and dolphins.
The incredible attention to detail in each castle left observers pondering whether the participants were amateurs or seasoned professionals. People of all ages were captivated by the displays of talent. Approximately 700 to 800 individuals attended the event to witness this remarkable spectacle, accompanied by the lively music provided by Lourdes & the Switch.
In addition to the sandcastle frenzy, a variety of vendors offered food, local drinks, and handcrafted goods. The food options were diverse, ranging from salt fish patties to barbecue chicken and rice. Crown Mountain Water ensured that the crowd remained well-hydrated with their water station, which also provided Gatorade.
Another exciting activity was the treasure hunt led by Captain Anne Bonny, also known as Pamela New-Ethridge, from the Tropical Treasure Hunt Company. Captain Anne Bonny had buried treasure at Brewers Bay years ago but couldn’t remember its exact location. She enlisted the help of numerous young sailors (children) to embark on a hunt for the hidden treasure. New-Ethridge expressed her enthusiasm for supporting the Virgin Islands Justice Initiative, an organization making a positive impact within the community.
The winners of the Kids and Family section were the group Soul Sisters, comprising Kelly, Vszenski, Avery, Pepper, and Tony Pearsall, as well as the Hermoyian and Marim families. In the V.I. Sandcastle Competition, the group Explorium, composed of Heather Swenson, Amy and Soren Gibbs, Dave Stroebel, and Megan Lyn, emerged as the victors.
The Sandcastle Festival was made possible through the generous support of several sponsors, including Perfected Claims, Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, Merchants Commercial Bank, Rock Citees Printing, Marjorie Rawls Roberts, PC, Crown Mountain Water, Island Snaps V.I., the V.I. Source, V.I. Waste Management Authority, and the Department of Public Works.
The Virgin Islands Justice Initiative, a 501(c)3 legal nonprofit organization, spearheaded the event. Their mission focuses on alleviating the burdens of poverty in the Virgin Islands through the provision of free legal representation and advocacy for restorative justice and systemic change.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story misidentified a photo of the sandcastle by the Craft Club as that of first-place winner Team Explorium.