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Arts, Sports & Culture

Travel Channel Stars Sculpt 5-Ton Pile Of Sand In Market Square

Pittsburgh might not have its own beach, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a giant sandcastle.

Sculptors Rusty Croft and Kirk Rademaker from the Travel Channel’s show Sand Masters transformed a five-ton pile of sand into a work of art in Market Square Thursday.

The artists co-own the business Sand Guys and have been professionally sculpting sand since 1997.

VisitErie, Erie County’s tourism promotion agency, hired the “masters” to create the sculpture for its “Hello Summer, Hello Erie!” advertising campaign.

“We’re featuring the beach,” said John Oliver, VisitErie’s CEO. “People from Pittsburgh I think recognize and know Erie, but we’re just down here to remind them that two hours away they’ve got a great beach, a lot of attractions, theme parks, water parks, all kinds of activities for visitors to do.”

Croft said the design of the sculpture was inspired by Erie’s shoreline.

“Beautiful shoreline, it’s all about making sandcastles and memories with your family,” he said.

He and Rademaker started sculpting the large pile of sand at 9 a.m. and finished around 2 p.m.

According to Croft, they want the process to be organic with minimal planning involved.

“We have a good saying that you don’t often see a kid at the beach making a sand castle with a set of blueprints, so we try to keep that same spirit alive,” Croft said. “And we really never know what kind of sand we’re going to have, so what we can actually make depends no the quality of sand we got.”

According to Oliver, the sand they had this time was not from Erie - they bought it in Pittsburgh.

However, Croft said they did have some ideas for the design and wanted to incorporate different elements of Lake Erie.

“We knew we were going to do their logo and then just put in some sandcastle features here and there, now we have very nice sand so we’re going to add a few more details,” Croft said. “I’m going to add a sailboat, a largemouth bass, some things that are indigenous to the local area and some summer activities.”

After Croft and Rademaker finished the sculpture, it was soon taken apart and cleaned up - and Croft said he’s okay with this.

“When we’re done with a sand sculpture, I just walk away, I try not to think about what happens,” Croft joked. “No, it’s one of the beautiful things about sand sculpture is that it’s a lot like life, its ephemeral, it doesn’t last forever, it’s not supposed to last forever, so you got to enjoy the moment while you’re there, you get into it, and when you’re done, just disassemble it, scoop it up, throw it back into the truck and you can go make another one.”