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43rd annual Sandcastle Contest has creative juices flowing

Event part of Opening of Beaches celebration

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Groups of friends and families were knee-deep in sand at Jacksonville Beach on Saturday competing in the 43rd annual Sandcastle Contest.

The competition kicked things off at the Opening of the Beaches celebration this weekend.

Nadia Hionides said she has taken part in the Sandcastle Contest since 1989 and thinks it's a great opportunity for families and children.

"It's something we need to be doing, instead of video games," she said.

PHOTO GALLERY: Sandcastle Contest at Jacksonville Beach

There were a lot of children out at the beach building sandcastles and exotic sea creatures as well.

Heather Pichette-Spencer brought her daughter to participate in the competition that has produced some pretty impressive sand art in years past.

"I told them just to have fun and enjoy and kind of see what it's like and if they want to plan a little bit more, we can do that," she said.

While some build standard castles on the beach, others are more competitive.

Ryan Rippel and his family sculpted dolphins riding a wave. He said you can't be afraid to dig in and get your hands dirty.

It's his third year competing and he has learned a few tricks of the trade.

"Freeforming with my hands and sculpting with my hands and using a tool here that is actually used for tile work," Rippel said.

Justin Kane and his nine buddies are competing for the first time but they didn't look new to the art. They based their sand sculpture on the "Game of Thrones" series and created their own Winterfell, Castle Black and the Wall.

"This is obviously going to be better because it's the castle.  We have the grunts over here and the ones better at detail over here," Kane said.

Everyone who participated in the contest T-shirt.

On Sunday, the Opening of the Beaches celebration continues with a parade at 2 p.m. 


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