Competitors were busy with more than just plastic buckets Saturday as they took part in the 23rd annual Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest. NY1's Bree Driscoll filed the following report.
Backhoes started piling up sand hours before the 23rd annual Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest even started Saturday, allowing sand sculptors to get a jump on their competition.
"It is pretty intense. I have rivalries with other sculptors here. And they have problems with me and it is all very good natured but we are always on each other," said Tony Saunders, a sand sculpting competitor.
As Saunders dug in he looked over to his main rival, Frank Russo, just one pile over. He has won the contest several times and is known for his castle building.
"You need teamwork. Everyone has to have a particular job or task assigned and stay to that all day long," Russo said.
More than 50 teams competed for cash prizes in several categories.
The Alliance for Coney Island also brought in a few professional sculptors to create some Coney Island themed masterpieces including the Wonder Wheel, Cyclone and New York Aquarium.
One master even shared some advice for the amateurs.
"Water, water, water. Inside and out. Water has to be all through the pile," said Chuck Feld, a professional sand sculptor.
Organizers and sculptors say this year's contest is particularly special because it shows just how strong the community is post Hurricane Sandy.
"I am delighted. We are all delighted that the beach is back. They have revived. The place is rebuilt. Some of our team members also lost their houses. It is upsetting from Sandy. But we are back and we are building," Russo said.
"There is still recovery taking place. There are still services that we are working on and bringing back to the community especially. But it is happening," said Johanna Zaki of the Alliance for Coney Island.
Unlike the fragile sand structures, residents say they can stand up to whatever mother nature brings on.