Two people from nearly two ends of North America teamed up and used a "light-hearted" religious message to capture the doubles division in the 27th annual American Sand Sculpting Championships on the beachfront of Wyndham Garden Hotel Sunday. The event wrapped up 10 successful days of a sand festival.
Morgan Rudluff of Santa Cruz, Calif. and Abe Waterman of Prince Edward Island, Canada -two cities over 3,735 miles apart- combined artistic creativities with their winning sculpture "The Second Greatest Story Ever Told," a carving that displayed Jesus as a puppeteer controlling Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny at teatime and stated a comical message about Jesus attempting to follow his first passion, The Theater, before entering the seminary.
With a theme of holidays, the two called the sculpture and message "light-hearted" and "a multiple-level joke" that shouldn't be taken too seriously.
The tandem of Morgan Rudluff and Abe Waterman captured top doubles division honors with “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told” at the 27th annual American Sand Sculpting Championships on the beachfront of Wyndham Garden Hotel Sunday.
"It's kind of like a joke on the side that maybe Jesus was just ahead of his time with the character concepts of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny," said Rudluff. "Had the people have gotten it, he would have made it in the theater. So, it's kind of like he was crucified for his theater ideas and then for his views about living among us."
"We are not into the traditional holiday cheer, so we wanted to come up with something that was a little off the wall and humorous," added Waterman.
Rudluff said the sculpture pays homage from where the aforementioned characters and their traditional roots come from.
"Both of us really are into the fourth dimension of oath of a three dimensional sculpture," she said. "We both have good senses of humor, and we wanted to tell a joke and poke a little bit of fun at the ridiculousness of everything we do as humans, but also honor what is holidays and what is meaning."
"This was a thought train that we hopped on," added Waterman.
The tandem (yes, they are romantically involved) also teamed up at the Siesta Key Crystal Classic two weeks ago, but that sculpture unfortunately collapsed. Even from world's apart, the two spend a lot of time traveling to events together.
"We are a couple, so we spend a lot of time together with our brains 'noodling' around on the road. We have a good opportunity to play with ideas," said Rudluff. "It's a really unique industry in terms of lifestyle, so it works out to be romantically involved with your sculpting partner. It makes for a common experience."
Second place in the doubles division was awarded to the duo of Meleneige Beauregard and Fred Mallett with "Holiday 'Peace & Joy'!!" and third went to the team of Amazin' Walter McDonald and Brett Stocker with "Christmas Party at the Castle B.Y.O.B." McDonald and Stocker's sculpture was chosen as People's Choice, while Beauregard and Mallett's carving was named Sculptor's Choice. It was also reported that Andy Hancock's "Bringing Home for the Holidays" was chosen as the People's Choice for singles division.
Sunday also featured awards going to advanced amateurs in the Florida State Sand Sculpting Championships. Advanced Amateur Sculptor Todd Pangborn of Jamestown, N.Y. took top honors in his division among the nine competing sculptors from all over the United State with his sculpture called "Owe Owe Owe, Merry Christmas." He was invited to move up to the professional level after winning the event two years in a row.
"We would like to invite you to compete as a masters sand sculptor next year," said The Sand Lovers' Bill Knight, who further explained the reasoning. "To get to the advanced amateur level, you have had to have won at least one or placed in several amateur contests."
Pincher's Crab Shack's Jason Camp stated a lot of charities benefit from the event and listed Teen Challenge, Boy Scouts and Make A Wish Foundation as three of them.
"Thank you for all of your admissions that came in. It's all for a good cause," he said.
The fact that more than 300 volunteers helped the festival flow smoothly was brought up again by Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce President Bud Nocera.
"Let's give a big round of applause to the volunteers that are still working," he said.