Big contest at Big Corona

CORONA DEL MAR — Elaborate castles, a church with a steeple, a dragon, an archeological dig and an ode to football — all made with sand and a ton of effort — filled Big Corona State Beach on Sunday as part of the 49th annual Sandcastle Contest.

"I want to make one! I want to make one!" Sarah Kramer, 3, of Irvine told her mother, while her brother, Ben, 7, smiled at the Brett Favre jersey made out of sand.

"He's one of his favorite players," said his mother, Susan. "This is our first time to the contest, and it's the first entry we see, and it's football — his favorite."

The contest began at 9 a.m. as teams arrived to register and choose their plot. At 11 a.m., construction began, and at 2:30 p.m., all work stopped and judging began. Teams were allowed to use hand tools, one wheelbarrow and ladder as well as buckets, watering cans and sprayers.

Jerry Langford of Lake Forest and his family started their project by digging a trench and sending the sand over to their friends working in the adjacent building area.

"We have an archeology grad on the team this year," Langford said. "So we decided to go with buried treasures."

Langford's daughter, Jacy, said their team had been building sandcastles in the Corona del Mar contest for 10 years.

"Look, he's using a shovel to make a shovel in the sand!" a passerby said as they watched the archeological dig take shape in the sand, complete with skulls, a shovel and a treasure chest.

Nearby, two girls pronounced a sand dragon as their second-favorite of all the contest entries.

"What will it take to make it your first?" said creator J.D. Barnes of Palm Springs. The girls told him a face before running off; Barnes began shaping eyes with the side of a trowel.

Other creations included a ship, a Thomas the Tank-type train and an octopus. Nearby, non-contestants made their own sandcastle creations, apparently inspired by the stunning works of the experts.

The Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce on Monday announced the contest winners:

Most Unique Sandcastle: Non Masters 1st: ASCE No. 13, Castle

Most Unique Sandcastle: Non Masters 2nd: Saugez Family No.15, Beachfront

Most Unique Sand Sculpture: Non Masters 1st: Barnes Family No. 7, Dragon

Most Unique Sand Sculpture: Non Masters 2nd: Pele Family No. 8, Train

Most Unique Sand Sculpture: Non Masters 3rd: Hayden Organization No. 20, Football, Favre

Most Humorous Creation: McCool Family No. 19, Hybrid Turtle

Best Display of Theme: "Treasures of the Sea": Langford Family No.10, Burial, skulls

Most Unique Sandcastle: Masters: Crosson No. 4, Doggie Walk Bags Castle

Most Unique Sand Sculpture: Masters: Crosson No. 3, Octopus

Commodores Overall Best Creation: Gilger Family No. 14, King and Queen Castle Repo

Honorable Mentions included: Rubini Family No. 6, Castle, Tunnels; Bohas Family No. 9, Lady with seashell; Van Vlear Family No.11, Multi layer castle, Lord of the Rings; Tague Organization No. 17, Castle, staircase; Braunwalder Family No. 18, Mermaid, Atlantis: Junior Division: Roth Family No.16, Wagon

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