A child was identified incorrectly in a caption in Monday's Style section story on Sand Castle Day in Bethany Beach.She is Shelley Jones.
"Let's get organized," a man from the Coast Alliance was saying. "The tide is coming in now, " he warned, a little desperately. "We've got to get going on these sand castles." His voice has begun to lose some of its cool, which was understandable, given the awesome heat and the pounding of the waves, and the asolute bedlam that reigned on National Sand Castle Day at Bethany Beach, Del.
"Well, where are the shovels?" asked a young fellow from the Army Corps of Engingeers whose shoulders had already begun to blush.
"Forget about the shovels," commanded his campanion, "we need blueprints!"
"Now wait a minute," screamed a young woman as the lifeguard's whistle shrilled. "You corps people are all alike. The rules forbid the use of blueprints, Engineers," she muttered, as she adjusted the t-shirt and hoisted her shovel and pail.
To celebrate National Sand Castle Day yesterday, the Coast Alliance, which had decided that Aug. 3 was Sand Castle Day in the first place, challenged the Army Corps of Engineers to a castle-building contest.
"The corps were a natural choice for us," said a woman wearing a "Friends of the Earth" button. "In the past, we've been natural enemies. The corps is getting better now, environmentally, but some of the older guys in the Southeast," she said, her eyes widening, "they're just Neanderthals. The people here today are the most enlightened."
The question being, is an enlightened engineer necessarily a good engineer?
The idea for the contest was Bill Painter's, the founder of the Coast Alliance, who spent the morning trying to organize the frenzy-to-be on the beach. He had thrown down the gauntlet a week ago, and the brass at the corps, who, understandably, believed themselves capable of a better sand castle, were quick to accept.
"A Supreme Challenge,"the invitation read, and went on to state, in determined and unrelenting good cheer, the rules of the contest.
There were to be no tools save shovels, buckets and, of course, hands. The waving of rubber chickens to distract opponents was prohibited, as was the consumption of Perrier. Ribbons were to be awarded for elegance of design and resistance to high tide.
The corps and the alliance, which were represented in about equal strength, soon split up into teams and got down to business.The corps put on their t-shirts and white construction caps as crowds of curious onlookers gathered, shielding themselves from the clods of sand that began to fly.
The alliance people, seemingly one for every environmental lobby in Washington, built three castles (the rules allowed only two). One castle, an igloo, drew longing glances from beachcombers too timid to brave the unseasonably cold water.
The mounds of sand grew steadily. The size of the teams ebbed and rose with the waves.
"This is great," exulted a 13-year-old, who knew nothing about the Coast Alliance or the Army Corps of Engineers but appeared ecstatic at the size of the craters that had begun to dot thewaterline.
"The lifeguards never let you dig this deep," he said as he fell, with deep statisfaction, into a wall of icy water.
A few feet down the beach, members of the corps' brigade, who looked nothing like Neanderthals and appeared to be enjoying themselved immensely, worked with great enthusiasm on a less than fanciful but solidlooking structure they studded with red and white buttons that read "The Corps Cares".
The tide rose punctually, which was to expected. Everyone was surprised anyway, which was also to be expected. Environmentalists and enlightened engineers alike stepped back to survey their efforts and determine whose retaining walls would do the best job.
Painter mustered himsef, with effort, back into an authoritative role. He located his two judges, the vice president of the town council and a bronzed lifeguard with girlfriend in tow who looked disgruntled at spending his day off watching a bunch of government typesdig holes in the sand.
The corps received a prize for the most durable castle; the Alliance received two prizes for design, which embarrassed a few of them, but not too much.
As the corps lingered on the beach, taking pictures of each other and their prize-winning castle, the alliance folks packed up their shovels, prizes, pamphlets and T-shirts and scooted on down the beach.
"Got to get to a less crowded space," said a young woman as she raced off in pursuit of her companions.
And shortly after the last environmentalist had hopped up over the boardwalk, a hugh wave brought the celebration to a quick, but dramatic, close.