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Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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Like sports, sand sculptures are fleeting performances

CLEARWATER BEACH - An exhibition of feats of sporting prowess is like any other performance; you watch it unfold in front of you, live in that exact moment, take a picture and let it fade to memory. Like a sandcastle. Meredith Corson and her partner Dan Doubleday understand. For the 13th year, they have created the sand sculpture on Clearwater Beach to commemorate the annual Outback Bowl Beach Day.
"We realize that it is a temporary art form. That is the most intriguing element of what we do," says Corson. "You have the memory of watching and once the performance is over you only have photos." Their company, Sanding Ovations of Treasure Island, specializes in building sandcastles to commemorate events like the Outback Bowl Beach Day, the Super Bowl or the Florida Gators' back-to-back National Championships. "Urban Meyer signed the sculpture," Corson says. This year's sculpture marked the Outback Bowl's 25th anniversary with the game's mark flanked by the logos of this year's opponents, the University of Florida and the Penn State Nittany Lions. To create this ephemeral monument, the Michelangelos of the shoreline used approximately 200 tons of sand and approximately 80 hours of work. And surprisingly, that is all they needed. "It is only sand and water, and it is scooped up directly from the beach," explains Corson. Fortunately, Clearwater Beach offers the perfect building material. "Clearwater sand is great for compacting and sculpting and is the best sand in the area. It is very white," says Corson. "We call it sugar sand. Because it is white it reflects light and we have to carve deeper to get shadows. It is almost like sculpting snow." Despite the labor they know that eventually, their performance will be swept away. "Sun and wind are more damaging than rain, Corson says. "Once security is gone, the human factor takes over. People don't believe it is just sand and there is a natural curiosity to touch."  All castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually.
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