‘Sand Bears’ return for Lewes Polar Bear Plunge

From left, Darrell O’Connor, Marc Schaffer and Andrew West, members of the “Sand Bears,” a sand sculpting group, stand with one of their creations from a past Lewes Polar Bear Plunge in Rehoboth Beach. The team is back for this weekend’s events, sculpting Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the beach just south of Rehoboth Avenue. (Submitted photo)

REHOBOTH BEACH — Look for the “Sand Bears” on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. as they shape and sculpt lines in the sand just south of Rehoboth Avenue.

Andy West, Darrell O’Connor, Marc Schaffer and Heather Williams plan to return to carve castles, bears and more from a giant pile of sand on the beach and hope to create a great backdrop for memorable Polar Plunge photos.

Mr. West and Mr. O’Connor will be back for the third year for the Polar Bear Plunge weekend to benefit Special Olympics Delaware

While both would prefer a summer day, cold weather creates some unique challenges but fun opportunities to share beach art with people who might not otherwise have a chance to see sand sculptors in action.

The “Sand Bears” hope the sculpture holds up well for the big day – Sunday – when thousands of bears arrive at the beach.

“Seeing so many people, bear families and bear teams, get photos in front of last year’s sculpture on Sunday meant a lot to me,” said Mr. West. “It’s great to add a fun touch to such a wonderful event.”

Mr. West and Mr. O’Connor have several years of combined carving experience, sculpting at competitions, festivals, weddings and just for fun.

Mr. O’Connor has earned the title of “king” of sandcastles in Delaware, having won the Rehoboth event nine times. In recent years, he has offered his time to teach others with a demonstration castle at the event.

Mr. O’Connor, of Wilmington, has also earned first-place honors in the Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, Sand Sculpting Festival, the Crystal Classic in Siesta Key, Florida, Blue Water SandFest in Port Huron, Michigan, and the American Sand Sculpting Championships in Fort Myers, Florida.

Mr. West, of Harrington, has finished in the top 10 for 10 consecutive years at the Rehoboth Beach Sandcastle Contest and took second in the Pro-Am Division of the Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, Sand Sculpting Festival in 2017.

In addition to the Polar Bear Plunge, Mr. West and Mr. O’Connor have teamed up for sand-carving demonstrations at Dover Days and the Great Delaware Pumpkin Carve at the Delaware State Fair.

Newcomers to the Sand Bears team this year will be Lynn Williams, Lenny Williams and Adam Basalyga.

Ms. Williams is also a veteran of the Rehoboth Beach Contest. She and her mother, Lynn, have won several times in the event.

Back for a second year for the Plunge carving is Marc Shaffer, of Swedesboro. New Jersey. He met Mr. West and Mr. O’Connor at the Wildwood Crest event and enthusiastically joined the “Sand Bears” last year.

“Ideally, we’ll have sunshine and it’ll be warm enough to carve something cool,” said Mr. West.

Other Saturday activities include:

• Fire & Ice event featuring ice cream and wing samples at the Rehoboth Beach Fire Department (Noon to 2 p.m. or while supplies last);

• 5K Run to the Plunge (1 p.m.); and

• Restaurant Chili Tasting contest (2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.).

In addition, restaurants and retailers throughout the Rehoboth Beach area provide registered “Bears” with special discounts.

The actual plunge into the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean will take place at 1 p.m.

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