Hey sandy feet!

I really wanted to come to Sandcastle Days this year and planned to drive all the way from Corpus. Got as far as Kingsville before the torrential rains started and had to turn around. So did you have a contest? And how did it go?


We got away with it again!

As you may or may not recall, last year's red tide came very close to ruining this event - the nasty stuff disappeared the very day of the amateur contest. This year - while it seemed like the whole state of Texas was under a massive flood watch and even areas as close as Harlingen and Brownsville were getting dumped on - almost all of the wet stuff went right around us and allowed some of us to get our last sunburn of the season... as well as some great rainbow shots.

Can the collective wishes of a few dozen sandsculpting fools turn the tide of nature? I'd like to think so.

At any rate, the 11th annual SPI Sandcastle Days was by all accounts a smashing success. Some 150 sculptors participated in creating over 50 sculptures on the beaches in front of the Bahia Mar, and if you weren't one of the 2000 or so estimated spectators, you missed out on one of the coolest exhibits of beach art ever seen on the Gulf Coast.

I am especially pleased to report that we (the Sons of the Beach) received a great deal of support from the SPI community this year. This was the first year that the city entrusted us with this event, and we needed (and got!) a lot of help from a lot of people to pull it off.

We were especially gratified by the efforts of local massage therapist Dolores Ferrentino. She charged $1 a minute for her extra special chair massages right on the beach, then donated all the proceeds - $500 total - to our favorite charitable organization, the Laguna Madre Humane Society.

You can find a list of the winners as well as a whole bunch of pictures on the web at http://unlitter.com/contest98/

Dear sandy feet,

Can you give me the scoop on what's happening with the Turtle Lady and Seaturtle Inc.? I have heard lots of rumors, i.e. Ila passed away or ran off to Mexico to fight in the revolution, Sea Turtle Inc. has been disbanded or shut down by the fishing industry, etc. etc.


Yes, there seems to be a lot of misinformation flying around and I am sorry to say it but some of the people who live and work here are at least partially responsible. The most important thing everyone needs to know is that Sea Turtle Inc. is alive and well and still scheduling twice-weekly turtle shows at Ila's' house on Gulf Blvd. in a continuing effort to educate the public on the endangered status of sea turtles.

Ila herself is also still alive and kicking and is being well cared for in Brownsville. I saw her myself at a recent gathering held at Seaturtle Inc. Headquarters in honor of her 94th birthday. Time has taken its toll and she is no longer the vibrant, spunky leader she was all those years back when Amazin' and I were volunteers with STI, but it was wonderful seeing her again all the same, and I am pleased to report that during this gathering some signs of the old Ila were still visible. During the group picture shots, someone brought over Merry Christmas - the cold shocked turtle Ila rescued 14 years ago - and her face lit up as she reached out to touch the 3-legged turtle. A few minutes later when they brought out a beautifully decorated cake for some more pictures, she immediately stuck her hand in it and gleefully licked the turtle-green frosting from her fingers. She smiled on cue - Ila always appreciated the value of photo ops - and at one point she looked around the familiar surroundings in wonder and softly murmured, "My place."

During this gathering, STI volunteer Jeff George announced that the organization is close to acquiring property just north of the Convention Center for a new STI location and also mentioned that the fishing industry is backing this venture with a very generous donation - thus dispelling any myths that the industry opposes the work of STI.

It is important that we the members of this community stay informed on STI activities and pass that information on to visitors who inquire about it as the fight to save our sea turtles will continue into the foreseeable future. You can read more about Ila and STI on the web at http://seaturtleinc.com/.

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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