Photo Courtesy of Kathleen Higgins

Photo Courtesy of Kathleen Higgins

The 23rd annual Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest kicks off this Saturday, pitting amateur artists in a contest to create the most imaginative sculptures possible. The New York Daily News is reporting that the contest is drawing contestants from all over the area, including a team led by Gravesend resident Anthony Avellino.

In late July, we reported on some intricate sand castles constructed on the shores of Kingsborough Community College beach. Reader Kathleen Higgins, who spotted the castles, didn’t know who was responsible for them but perhaps they were competitors practicing before the big event kicks off on this Saturday on the 17th.

The Daily News highlighted a team that will be led by 30-year-old Gravesend resident Anythony Avellino, a three-time medalist:

With just a knife and their hands for tools, Anthony Avellino and his uncle William Petrosino began their sand sculpting days crafting the New York City skyline. Their tool belts have grown since, but the five-time competitors — and three-time medalists — stay grounded.

“It’s cool to win, but I just like competing and having a good time seeing everyone’s work,” says Avellino, who sculpts with clay on the side.

This year, he and Petrosino, a radio personality at WKRB 90.3 FM, may step away from skyscrapers. Avellino says the duo plan to sculpt a half-buried treasure chest.

But Petrosino, 43, has another idea — “the tremendous castle” — which came to him in a vision. “I feel like it’s in me and I have to get it out, and I won’t rest until I do,” he says.

He’s aware that castles are the domain of competitor Frank Russo, w ho Petrosino tries to avoid competing against despite distinct differences in their castle craft.

“My castles come out like a fortress,” says Petrosino. “Russo comes out with this fairyland, ‘Wizard of Oz’-type of thing. I come out with ‘300’-type stuff.”

Sounds really cool. If you would like to take a crack at competing against Avellino and other amateur artists, you can sign up for the contest at coneyislandfunguide.com by clicking here. The contest starts at noon and runs to 5 p.m. It is being held between West 12th Street and West 8th Street on Coney Island. Best of luck to all contestants!

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