29th Annual Coney Island Sand Sculpture Competition: Photos

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29th Annual Sand Sculpture Competition Todd Maisel/Bklyner

CONEY ISLAND – The 29th Annual Sand Sculpture competition in Coney Island attracted more than 10,000 visitors to the beach to see sand sculptures that told stories from participants from around the country, according to the organizers, Brooklyn Community Services and the Alliance for Coney Island.

Joe Sloboda of Seaford LI and Frank Russo Fort Salonga LI build their castle on the beach and won first place for best family sand sculpture. (Photo By Todd Maisel)

This year’s contest winner was Joe Slobodia of Long Island who won with his U.S.A themed
castle and complex. He and his buddy Frank Russo have been building sand-castles for 25 years.

“We would take the family and the kids to the beach and it sort of evolved into building these more elaborate sand-castles,” Solbodia said.

The winner of the individual competition was Gary Feliciano of Sheepshead Bay with his depiction of a woman climbing a mountain. (Photo By Todd Maisel)

Gary Feliciano of Sheepshead Bay won the individual prize for his sand depiction of a woman climbing a mountain.

“I made a woman climbing a mountain because it represents the future of women and the future is now,” Feliciano said. “It’s time for women to rise up so she’s climbing a mountain. I did it for the women because this is the year of the woman – climbing the highest mountain and every mountain.”

Nelson Mercado of Williamsburg and John Martinez of Dyker Heights won for best group effort of their depiction of a Disney like fantasy land of castles and trees in the sand. (Photo By Todd Maisel)

Taking the best team castle was Nelson Mercado of Williamsburg and John Martinez of Dyker Heights who won for best group effort of their depiction of a Disney like fantasy land of castles and trees in the sand.

“That’s what we enjoy doing – we do it for the kids and they enjoy it and it makes people feel good,” Mercado said.

Other notables was a portrait in the sand of musician Lee Lawless by his wife Marina of
Manhattan.

Marina Lawless did a sculpture of her husband Lee, a musician. (Photo By Todd Maisel)

‘I did it because he is an amazing musician and an amazing person – I love this guy,” his wife said.

John Woodard of New Jersey did a man locked in a jail of his own making.

John Woodward of NJ did a sand sculpture of man in conflict. (Photo By Todd Maisel)

“There are two ways to look at this – you give the right answer to a question and then you give the truth, and it represents the conflict that people face,” Woodard said.

Rachel Luka was joined by Stephanie and Cathie Nicholas of Bushwick where they made the Statue of Liberty swimming in the Hudson.

Stephanie and Cathy Nicholas, of Bushwick and Rachel Luka, New Jersey show their rendition of Lady Liberty swimming in the Hudson River to Nathan’s for a hot dog. (Photo By Todd Maisel)

“We just wanted to get a little New York in there – Lady Liberty is standing there in the hot sun holding the torch and so she takes a swim to get a hot dog at Nathan’s,” Luka said.

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Todd Maisel
Todd Maisel is an award-winning photographer with more than 35-years, specializing in breaking news. He currently serves as vice president of the New York Press Photographers. He was honored by the National Press Photographers Association and the Uniform Firefighters Association for saving the life of a firefighter he found in debris after the collapse of the World Trade Center, assisting in the rescue of an injured photographer, and for extensive coverage of the attack. Maisel is a graduate of NYU School of Journalism.
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