Ocean City, Maryland- Where Sand Sculptures Lead to Life Long Friendships

Sand sculptures lead to life long friendships for these families here in Ocean City.

Katherine Ruskey: Hi guys, I’m Katie with Ocean City.com. And we have some really exciting news today. We are here with the winners of the August sandcastle contest. We are here with the Baker family, the Polsinelli family, and the Leahy family!  Guys, how are you?

Christina Polsinelli: Doing well.

John and Laura Leahy: Great.

Katherine Ruskey: Perfect. So I need to know who’s part of the Baker family. Raise your hand-  part of the Baker family-  and the Polsinelli family. And the Leahy family.Great.  So, how did this trip get started? I know you guys say, this is an annual trip for all of you for your three families, coming to Ocean City. Were you guys friends to begin with? How did it all start?

John Leahy: No. So we started over 20 years ago, 21 or so. So we went down with the family. We have five children. At the time we had two or three. Yes. And Anthony’s family has two daughters, Gabby, Christina. The kids met up on a beach.Anthony, I think had dug a hole and the kids were playing in it. And I think the next year I was digging out a bench. Or something like that, some kind of furniture. We just started talking. I remember Anthony had a Boston Red Sox towel.

John Leahy: We were at Seal Beach, number 10 and the Polsinelli family was across the street. And what’s the name? .

Anthony Polsinelli: Constellation House.

John Leahy: So we’d see them coming off the beach and going on to the beach, so it just started as the kids playing together and then we built them a couch in the sand and then the couch became something else and then it became something else. It’s just grown over the time. So that’s how originally got started. We didn’t know The Polsinelli’s or The Baker’s. We just went down on our family vacation, with my wife’s family.


Katherine Ruskey: So, I was gonna say you guys had no idea who each other were before you actually went to Ocean City.

Anthony Polsinelli: No, no idea.

John Leahy: No, and now they regret it.

Katherine Ruskey: Lol- You guys are funny!

John Leahy: yeah, and…

John Leahy: Now It’s been over 20 years and now both families are coming to our oldest daughter’s wedding. 

Katherine Ruskey: That’s incredible. Girls do you remember these early sand sculptures, or were you even alive 20 years ago?

Gabriella Polsinelli: Definitely remember the couches in the sand and then creating the little TV to look at myself.  Mr. John’s daughter. I think we’re the ones who hit it off specifically on the sand couch. So, definitely a lot of memories. Super fun.

Katherine Ruskey: Do you guys have one specific sand sculpture that stands out as your favorite or maybe one that took the longest? How long does it take you to actually make some of these things?

Christina Polsinelli: I mean, some of the bigger ones we did were cars- Kirby?

John Leahy: Yep-Kirby.

Christina Polsinelli: We did a Tow Mater

John Leahy: A favorite.

Katherine Ruskey: So cool.

Christina Polsinelli: They take a long time. 

John Leahy: Yeah, they’re an all-day project and…

Anthony Polsinelli: Yeah, there are a lot of sand,…

Anthony Polsinelli: A lot of water- it’s an all-day thing. We start out early. The dads are out early on the beach.

John Leahy: Yeah. 

Anthony Polsinelli: Getting everything ready early.

Katherine Ruskey: Is it all hands-on deck or is this more like you guys watch the dads do all the work because usually the dads are all the ones building and everything- digging the holes. Who’s doing most of the work here?

Christina Polsinelli: Yeah. we supervise,…

Gabriella Polsinelli: Not us.

John Leahy: Yeah.

Anthony Polsinelli: They make the suggestions. Why don’t you do something bigger? And why don’t you come out in the morning and dig some sand? no,…

Laura Leahy: Yep.

Christina Polsinelli: I won’t be doing that.

Katherine Ruskey: How do you guys come up with the ideas for it? Because I’m gonna show a picture and I’m gonna share my screen if I can get it to work. We have a Snoopy.  We have the Ocean City logo. How do you guys decide?

John Leahy: Usually the kids.  Even though they’re not kids anymore. But usually the kids come up with ideas, About what’s popular. So if there’s a movie or something that’s out because if you look back at the ones we’ve done over the years, we’ve done Bugs Bunny and all that kind of stuff. And now, since we’ve done what we consider popular now, we got to do stuff with the younger kids, the four, five, six year olds will recognize. So we rely on all our daughters to come up with ideas…

Katherine Ruskey: True.

John Leahy: They come up with these ideas and we will do printouts and bring the printouts to the beach.

Katherine Ruskey: So I was going to ask.  Do you guys have requests? Are you in the middle of something and someone comes up and says, Hey, can you make me or can you do this next?

Christina Polsinelli: Yeah, sometimes a lot of the kids come by and they see us there every year and it’s a lot of repeat people to come and see it every year . Every year we do something new and the sculptures have a year stamped on it in shells so we know the year.

Katherine Ruskey: Yeah, I was gonna say. , It looks like there are  shells on the Ocean City logo that we’re seeing here. Is that seashells inside of it?

Athony Polsinelli: Yep, that is true. And hey, maybe the kids, they actually have a part. They collect the shells. 

Katherine Ruskey: Okay, so who’s got the good penmanship because somebody has some really good penmanship in the sand. That’s a talent right there.

Anthony Polsinelli: That is a talent.

John Leahy: Yeah, Mr. Chad and I-  We’re the laborers, Anthony’s, the artist.

Katherine Ruskey: What’s the eyes made up of in the Yoshi?

Christina Polsinelli: That is just cardboard.

Katherine Ruskey: Really?

Anthony Polsinelli: Some of them are plastic, some of them are cardboard, whatever sculpture. It depends what we’re doing that day. And we have a whole slew of them, and we try to incorporate at least an eyeball or some buttons in there. Just as a special thing to let it stick out a little bit further, that’s all.

Katherine Ruskey: I think this Snoopy is my favorite.

John Leahy: You have to get Miss Denise on the screen because she collects the bag of eyeballs that we’ve had for about 20 years.

John Leahy: Bottle caps. Sponges anything, you can find, she collects them,

Katherine Ruskey: That’s incredible. So, how hard is it to leave it there year after year knowing that the waves are gonna come up and crash it, someone’s gonna step on it, and you come back the next day and it’s not there. How heartbreaking is that?

Anthony Polsinelli: Me and Mr. John, we’re out there early in the morning, Mr. Chad, the first thing I do, when I get over that dune, I look for that mound to be there from yesterday. And there’s a lot of days that it’s not, but there are some days that it’s completely intact from the day before. 

Katherine Ruskey: That’s incredible. People sometimes don’t want to touch it because it is so beautiful. 

Christina Polsinelli: Yeah, it’s cool. It’s really fun to do and it’s fun to see it there all day. You see people walking by coming by and taking pictures of it. Taking their pictures behind it. It’s fun.

Katherine Ruskey: Girls. Are you planning next year’s picture already or is that something that you’ll do the week before?

Christina Polsinelli: I’m already getting ideas. I look at kids bookbags. 

Katherine Ruskey: That’s a good idea, very cool. So before we leave, let’s just take a roll call. Where you guys from? Which state?

Anthony Polsinelli: Mr. John you go first.

John Leahy: The Leahy’s are from New York State.

Katherine Ruskey: And the Baker’s?

The Baker Family: The Baker’s are from Eldersburg, Maryland.

Katherine Ruskey: And the Polsinelli’s?

Anthony Polsinelli: We’re from Baltimore, Maryland.

Katherine Ruskey: It was so nice to talk to you. Thank you so much for joining us. You were just the picture of how Ocean City is special to all families, Bringing everybody together and having a really good time here on the beach.

Anthony Polsinelli: We thank you for holding the contest this year. It was something our family told us about sometime in June or so and I said “We’re gonna be there in August. We’re gonna think of something to submit.” It was really cool that you had it and I’m super excited that we won.

Katherine Ruskey: We’ll have to look for you guys next year and see what you guys are gonna do.

John Leahy: If you look at Facebook, we have a page OC Sand sculptures. If you visit you can see everything we’ve ever done over the years. 

Katherine Ruskey: That’s incredible. Everybody- Go out and visit OC Sand sculptures on Facebook and check out all of the Baker, Leahy, and Polsinelli sculptures from the past 20 years. Guys, we look forward to seeing what you’ll do for us next year. 

John Leahy: Great. Thank you. Take.

Anthony Polsinelli: Thank you.


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