CLEARWATER BEACH — Sculptors will use more than 1,000 tons of sand to turn the beach into a temporary art gallery during the second annual Sugar Sand Festival, a 10-day event that opens to the public April 4.
Sponsored by Sunsets at Pier 60 Daily Festival and the City of Clearwater, the walk-through exhibit will be housed inside a 15,000-square-foot tent located immediately south of Pier 60.
Despite a cold front that brought rainy weather Monday and early Tuesday, tons of sand was moved by trucks and bulldozers from the north and south beach areas to the festival site as scheduled, according to event organizer Lisa Chandler.
“The weather has not been an issue,” and the sand will be returned to its former locations following the conclusion of the event, she said.
The event is expected to draw an estimated 50,000 people. To attract a crowd twice the size of the inaugural festival in 2013, the promotional campaign was expanded to include advertising in the Spirit Magazine available on Southwest Airlines and the US Airways Magazine, and news stations and billboards in Orlando and Atlanta, according to Chandler.
Organizers unveiled a new theme this year, “Beach Walk of Fame.” It ties together the city's half-mile-long winding beachside promenade with Sunsets at Pier 60, which offers family-friendly movies on a huge inflatable screen each weekend in Pier 60 Park.
Six master sand sculptors from Team Sandtastic will create festival exhibits depicting movie characters and scenes of iconic Hollywood, home of the entertainment industry. The team, also responsible for last year's sand art, is based out of Sarasota and has created sculptures throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Sunsets at Pier 60 will expand its weekend schedule to 10 nights of movies during the festival, featuring such popular films as “The Little Mermaid,” “Jaws,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II” and “Back to the Future.” The movies are expected to start at dusk each night.
Another new feature this year is The Frenchy's Sand Bar, where beer and wine will be sold daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Like last year, the 10-day festival will offer a variety of free activities including a professional sand sculpting competition, clinics, speed sandcastle building demonstrations and a children's play area. The Pier 60 buskers will perform each night.
Admission to the sand sculpture exhibit inside the tent is $8 for adults, $4 for students ages 6 to 17, and $5 for seniors (55 and older), military personnel, police and firefighters. Children 5 and younger get in free when accompanied by a paying adult. The ticket cost will include a commemorative 8-by-10-inch souvenir photo for each guest. The exhibit will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day.
Other festival sponsors are Bright House Networks, CCM Photobooks, Fun 'n Sun Festival, Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa, and Clearwater Gas Systems.
Last year's Sugar Sand Festival won the Silver Adrian Award given by Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, a global organization representing all segments of the hospitality industry. Event creator Lisa Chandler, the City of Clearwater and Hyatt Regency were honored for outstanding achievement in public relations for a special event.
For more details about the festival, visit www.sugarsandfestival.com.