To the editor:
We have just completed the 27th Annual Florida Sandsculpting Championship on Fort Myers Beach. Over the years this has grown into one of the signature events for Fort Myers Beach and Southwest Florida. It provides a great reason for people to choose this destination for a Thanksgiving Holiday vacation and provides a wonderful day of activities for our residents to bring visiting friends and relatives.
We would like to sincerely thank those companies who contributed cash or in-kind services to sponsor this signature event for Southwest Florida. Those sponsors include: Pinchers Crab Shack restaurants, Texas Tony's BBQ, Big C Events, Wyndham Garden Hotel, Sand Lovers, The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel (Lee County Tourist Development Council), Seminole Casino of Immokalee, Gavin's Ace Hardware, Bass Pro Shops, News-Press Media Group, Edison-Fort Winter Estates, DiamondHead Resort, Key West Express, Fish Tale Marina, Lovers Key Resort, Y100, Sandarac I and II, Coors Light, 95.3 and The River.
We also want to thank all our wonderful volunteers, who provided well over 1,000 volunteer hours during the 10 days. Their dedication and service is deeply appreciated.
This year, the event hosted 16 U.S. and international sand sculptors as well as amateur sculptors from Florida and the U.S. We had more sculptures on the sand than ever before in the history of the event, and the event now lasts from the Friday before Thanksgiving until the Sunday after the holiday.
As the American Sandsculpting Championship has grown over the years, the expenses of implementing such a large event require us to charge a modest daily ticket price of $5. That price includes free parking and a free shuttle as well as unlimited gate access for a day. In addition, there are discounts for large families and those wanting three days of access. It is a modest price to see such amazing sand sculptures and have an outing with the family or friends.
This year, the event was able to provide a contribution to many local organizations, including Lovers Key State Park, Make A Wish Foundation of Southwest Florida, Boy Scout Troop 999,Teen Challenge and the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Finally, many people ask why the sand sculptures are not left standing after the event. There are several good reasons. The main reason is that we have an agreement with Department of Environmental Protection to return the beach to its natural state as soon as the event is over. But there are other reasons besides being good stewards of the beach, including public safety and liability in what would be an unsupervised environment.
We thank all who attended this year and look forward to your return next year, Nov. 21-30, 2014. See you on the beach!
Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce