Searching for SPI vandals

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Almost every day, Rachael Bunton leads Segway riders down Padre Boulevard on a sightseeing tour of the Island’s most iconic locations.

One of those stops is the massive, permanent sand sculptures at the Visitor’s Center.

Yesterday afternoon, instead of her group taking in the sight and learning about the attraction that helps make the Island the sandcastle capital of the world, the group was examining the destruction of the sand sculptures.

On Friday, March 9 at 1:40 a.m., four male subjects vandalized the sandcastle in front of the Visitors Center causing major damage.

The estimated costs of the damages are $24,000.

The South Padre Island Visitors Center has put up a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest.

“It was pretty bad,” said Bunton, SegValley Tours, owner. “They just spent 500 hours putting it together and they were trying to get it done before the spring breakers arrived.”

The vandalism to the sandcastles happened on two separate nights, just days after the artists finished replacing the old sand sculptures that had stood for five years.

South Padre Island officials said this is the first time any sand sculptures have been damaged during spring break.

“The damage they caused is extensive and disappointing,” said Andy Hancock, one of the sandcastle artists. “Sandy Feet has not even been to look at it, she is very upset.”

Hancock and Lucinda Wierenga – better known as “Sandy Feet” – are local sandcastle artists who offer lessons on sand sculpting.

They worked through February designing the new sculptures that were destroyed.

Hancock said the 500 hours of work it took to make the sandcastles all went down the drain. But they won’t give up.

“This is Texas, we don’t lay down,” Hancock said about the broken sand sculptures. “We’re going to rebuild it, and it’s going to better than it was before.”

Hancock also is optimistic police will find the persons responsible.

“The senseless destruction to our sandcastles is heartbreaking,” said Dennis Stahl, SPI mayor. “Two premier Island sculptors led a team for over 13 days to construct this signature public art.”