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Q. We are making plans for our annual fall visit to SPI and wondered what the status is on Sand Castle Days this year. We were not able to make it last year with the bridge being down but don't want to miss it in 2002!

A. I am going to try not to judge you too harshly for letting a little ol' ferry ride keep you from experiencing one of the most impressive demonstrations of sand artistry the Texas Gulf Coast has ever seen.... With a little luck and a lot of work, this year's contest has the potential to be even better.

The 15th annual SPI Sand Castle Days Competition is scheduled for Oct. 17-20, 2002 at Boomerang Billy's Beach at the Surf Motel. As in the past, this event will feature the work of some of the world's best sand sculptors in the masters competition -- as well as a huge demo by the SPI Sons of the Beach Sand Castle Wizards; multiple categories for amateurs (kids, adults and families); and the ever -popular "Texas State Championship" Duo competition.

One recent development in this year's event planning was the pull-out of a major sponsor, leaving this year's budget considerably less than expected. This unfortunate shortfall could quite possibly result in a smaller number of master's entries to "ooooh" and "ahhh" over....unless of course we can successfully solicit some new sponsors to help pick up the slack.

So let's just imagine for a moment that you are the owner of a small but successful Island business... or maybe even the CEO of a huge multinational corporation. Let's say that your accounting practices have been... creative. In that case, you could probably use a giant dose of good karma. Let's further imagine that you are giving some serious consideration to dropping a chunk of change on some really good cause... maybe even Sand Castle Days. If so, you may be asking yourself, "If I or my company sponsors this event, what is in it for Me?" The answer is PLENTY, including --

* the pleasure of seeing your name or logo carved in sand and featured prominently on the event web-site (sandcastledays.com)
* that same name or logo viewed by thousands of live people -- and untold thousands more who will see the photos in family albums as well as on the web-site
* the satisfaction of knowing that every one of those thousands of people will think that you are a really swell person/company for helping sponsor this family-friendly event
* the tiny birdies of good fortune that will circle your head for the rest of your days
* the big fat tax write-off you will get to claim next April 15th

Okay... so I am not exactly sure about the last two (your mileage may vary) but you will undoubtedly be courting some extremely good karma if you help with this event. In addition to cold, hard cash, we need meals, lodging and airport transportation for the visiting sculptors -- and warm-bodied volunteers the days of the contest. Drop me an e-mail, or -- better yet, contact event chairwoman Laurie Gaudi over at the Bahia Mar if you have any ideas or would like to help.

Sandy feet's Hot Tip #1: We are hearing increasingly frequent reports of visitors getting handed three digit phone bills upon checking out of their rental condos. It seems that in some units, merely dialing to Brownsville (say, to the local AOL number) is being charged as a long distance call. If you are traveling with your laptop and planning to connect to the internet, it would be a very good idea to consult the property manager first to see if this is something that is going to affect your bill.

Sandy feet's Hot Tip #2: Bongodogs returning to Wanna Wanna! We have it on good authority that Bob and Penny have agreed to make an exception to their "NO DOGS IN THE BAR AREA" policy the evenings of July 27th, Aug. 17, and Sept. 1. The Bongodogs will be taking back the beach starting at 8 PM on those evenings and I for one am already marking my calendar.... and so should you!

There are five (5) ways to submit your questions/comments for future Ask Sandy columns: In person; by phone (761-6222) or fax (761-8930); the US Postal System (box 2694,spi,78597) and E-mail: (sandyfeet@unlitter.com). Visit my web-site (http://spionline.com/) for tips on sandcastling, contest info, recent Ask Sandy columns, and my reviews of local businesses.

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