SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Locals and visitors of this coastal city are celebrating Valentine’s Day with their loved ones in a way that showcases the unique aspects of the area.
On the Island near the Ferris wheel at Gravity Park, at least 50 sand sculptured hearts can be found scattered throughout several large sand sculptures in a Valentine’s Holiday Sandcastle Village.
An array of themed sculptures can be found at the sandcastle village such as Joaquin Cortez’s surfing Baby Yoda, which was originally a sculpture of Santa Clause.
Starting in mid-January, sandcastle village founder and business owner Lucinda “Sandy Feet” Wierenga, along with Gary “Anubis” Morrison and Cortez, re-carved and maintained close to 13 large sand sculptures.
The sculptures were originally created for a Christmas-themed sandcastle village held from November to early January.
Those involved with the Island’s Holiday Sandcastle Village said they couldn’t bear to part ways with their creations just yet.
So they decided to re-carve and transform the existing sculptures into the Island’s first Valentine’s Holiday Sandcastle Village.
“I get a lot of love from the people that are coming to see it and also from the people that are willing to put some money into it,” Wierenga said. “So I’m feeling very happy about it.”
In addition to a large Baby Yoda sculpture, the sandcastle village’s other large sculptures include sand snowmen, Sea Turtle, Inc. founder Ila Fox Loetscher holding a turtle, a mermaid, an Egyptian pharaoh, a heart throne that visitors can sit on, a mantle decorated with roses and hearts, a teddy bear, a tree, Baby New Year and large sand lettering that spells “love.”
Visitors are able to walk through the sandcastle village and view the sculptures anytime.
Island resident Rey Betancourt visited the sandcastle village Thursday afternoon with Denise Hernandez from Brownsville.
“It brings in people and I think that’s good for the Island,” Betancourt said. “It’s a good attraction to have because it attracts people, especially with the Winter Texans here.”
Hernandez said she enjoys art.
“I think this sandcastle village is a unique aspect of what the Valley has to offer,” she said. “It’s really neat to highlight the skills that people in the region have and demonstrate it as an art.”
Wierenga said the sandcastle village has been a great attraction for visitors and there have even been busloads of people dropped off to see it.
“There’s a lot of love here,” Wierenga said. “A lot of people have donated money, sponsorship to get their name on a heart so we’re happy to put people’s names on hearts and just surround ourselves with love.”
Business owners or individuals who are interested in sponsoring a customized heart are still able to and can do so by contacting Wierenga or by filling out a form on Sandcastle Island, Inc.’s website.
“We have a nonprofit called Sandcastle Island, Inc. and all of the money goes through there and what we do is we offer free sandcastle lessons during the summer to everybody four days a week,” Wierenga said. “So, we’ll continue to do that and that’s what donations are going toward so it’s a good cause.”
According to Wierenga, counters placed at the entrance of the Holiday Sandcastle Village tallied close to 35,000 visitors from late November up to early January.
Wierenga said there’s hope for continued interest in making a sculptural transition from a Valentine’s theme to a summer style.
“This has been a lot of fun and we’re hoping that some funding will materialize somewhere that will allow us to continue probably post Spring Break,” she explained. “We’d love to do something completely new for summer so that’s what our hopes and plans are.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT — Valentine’s Holiday Sandcastle Village
WHERE — Next to the Ferris wheel at Gravity Park, 106 West Marlin St., South Padre Island
ON DISPLAY — Now until sometime around March
To purchase/sponsor a customized heart shaped sculpture visit https://tinyurl.com/vek8l79 or contact Lucinda Wierenga at (956) 459-2928 for more information.