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By Eric Heinz

For three families in San Clemente, the Ocean Festival sand sculpting competition is tradition.

“We started in 1983, and it was myself, Norman Eisenbeisz and his wife, Loraine. It was a combination of my dad’s family as well as the Gallaghers and Websters, and we’re all related in some way,” Shayne Gallagher said.

Norman died in 2017 at the age of 89, and the family placed a tribute banner in his name alongside their sculpture.

It was more than 33 years ago that the families started participating in the sand-sculpting competition.

“We were sitting on the curb on Del Mar during a parade that went down the street and saw something in the paper about Ocean Festival coming up with a new event, and we entered that first year.”

The Eisenbeisz, Gallagher and Webster families join together in 2017 to celebrate Norman Eisenbeisz. Photo: Courtesy
The Eisenbeisz, Gallagher and Webster families join together in 2017 to celebrate Norman Eisenbeisz. Photo: Courtesy

Albeit this was their first try, Gallagher said it was not a great castle, but they’ve been honing their skills for more than three decades. They’ve created different creatures of the sea and characters during that time.

This year, Shane said the sculpture design could be decided by the family as late as a couple days before the event.

“We’re considering a hot-air balloon or maybe a jellyfish or sea otter,” Shayne said. “It’s a really great way to have your family bond, and over the years the most popular things that we’ve done were characters from movies.”

Sand sculpting takes place from 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sunday, July 22 near the Youth Pavilion on the south side of the Pier.

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