In the middle of this dreary May, there’s a ray of sunshine. The thing is, it comes from a giant tent in an Arlington parking lot.
Once you walk inside, the collection of 20-foot tall sand sculptures will make you forget you’re in land-locked North Texas.
The Wicked Witch of the West has always been an imposing villain. Even as a sand sculpture, her ferocity holds up.
And she’s just a small part of Fantasy In Sand’s Wizard of Oz display. The emerald city looms larger than life. Every hair of the Cowardly Lion’s mane has been crafted with painstaking detail; in sand.
So how do sculptures of this magnitude spring to life? 10 year-old Jacob Joyce from Keller hazards a guess.
“I think they definitely have to get ladders to do this because they’re so tall. I think they use water,” says Jacob. “They may use tools but some of these things they might do with their hands.”
The Great and Powerful Oz couldn’t have said it better. Jacob’s right. These sculptures started as nothing more than three million pounds of loose, damp sand.
“It’s purified sand right so we take out all the sea shells and the hermit crabs and the weird guys with metal detectors,” says creator Warren Lyng. “We purify it, wet it down, they carve it and then we cover it with a solution, it’s almost like an Elmer’s glue but it’s environmentally friendly. All this is green. It’s so green it’s almost not yellow, as a matter of fact.”
Lyng says this is first U.S. appearance for the show which has toured Europe. It took a team of sand sculptors from Florida 14 days to carve these statues. And those tools they wield are pretty basic.
“It’s just like chisels and knives. The tin man you’re looking at there was carved with a finger. I watched him do that with a finger, which is amazing to me as well.”
The sand hasn’t been spray-painted, so it actually looks like it was scooped straight off the beach. But if you think you can knock these sculptures down like a run-of-the-mill castle, guess again.
“If somebody decides to jump over the barriers and punch the tin man in the face, they’re going to get a broken hand. So it’s pretty hard.”
The sand spectacular will be up in Arlington through August and the plan is to return every summer with a new theme. It’s not cheap either. Tickets range from 16 to 21 dollars.
These creations are pretty impressive, but if you think you can do better, there’s a 2,000 square foot sand box and the end of the yellow brick road with buckets, spades and beach balls.