CORONA DEL MAR — There were mermaids reading books, a whale, a pyramid — even a crime scene where a sand kid who smashed a sand castle was being pursued by a sand detective — that were all part of the Corona del Mar Sandcastle Contest at Big Corona beach on Sunday.
"That's funny," said Mark Philipp of Aliso Viejo as he surveyed the "Castle Smashing Investigation" sculpture.
"It's amazing," his wife, Beth Philipp, said. "I just am amazed at all the creativity. There's a lot of hard work."
The teams set up before lunch in their assigned plots, using buckets to tote seawater to create slurries of sand. They worked from drawings and plans, forming their creations and then using brushes and other tools to get the details just right.
"They said, 'Make scales,' and the next thing you know, you're a professional scaler," said Danny Sullivan, who worked on the mermaids that formed the logo for the Newport-Mesa ProLiteracy entry.