By Nikki McCoy
“The next piece is always the favorite,” says Tom Rieger, an architect both on the books and in the sand. With two sons at Olympia Waldorf School (OWS), Tom has long represented Waldorf at Sand in the City’s annual sand sculpting contest.
Tom’s teams have brought home Gold and Silver Shovels for sculptures like a dragon and his fearless knight (Sir More) roasting marshmallows, a silhouette of a growing young man, the four temperaments with an interactive picture frame, and a favorite – stacking gnomes, which mimicked iconic Russian nesting dolls, but with Northwest flair.
“Everyone loved that one,” laughs Tom, noting they used a smearing technique (put sand on rather than take it off) to create the much-talked about beards. “Everyone was like, ‘That is so cool!’”
It’s true – the sand sculptures really are cool. But it’s not always the final product, but the act of sculpting and teamwork that can really make the event magical.
With Tom as the lead, dozens of parents, staff and teachers in the Waldorf community have participated in the three-day Sand in the City celebration. This year’s event, which supports the free and reduced admission programs at the Hands On Children’s Museum is slated for August 21 – 23.
“The whole idea of Sand in the City is kids playing in the sand,” says Tom. “So it’s fun to have adults like kids, playing in the sand.” Plus, he says, it’s important to be active in the community.
Erica Merrill, development coordinator at Olympia Waldorf School, agrees that it’s great for the team to get involved with each other, and the community.
“We like to be together, engaged in something that requires skill and creativity,” she says. “And yet one of the best things about it is that someone who’s never carved before can join the team with only minimal training and have fun, and be an essential member of the team. There’s something for everyone. Some people really love the sifting, some love tamping the sand into the molds. Some people have a knack for certain techniques and we try to incorporate those into the design.”
“It’s a full day in the sun, playing with sand, being together, and representing the school our children go to,” continues Erica. “We’re proud of OWS and it shows in our carving.”
“We enjoy it and we get out into the community,” she adds. “And of course, we’re proud to participate in an event so crucial to the funding of Hands On Children’s Museum’s important community programs.”
The other benefit, she notes, is that Olympia Waldorf School now has an activity booth, and they are grateful to share what they do at their school with the kids and adults who attend Sand in the City. This is their second year having a booth, and they look forward to the fun.
“When people come to our booth, they will find Olympia Waldorf School employees and volunteers who can’t wait to involve them in our crafts,” explains Erica. “We will be connecting our crafts to some traditional Waldorf projects to give people a little taste of what it’s like to engage in activities at OWS. We will be making prints with apples, inspired by the Apple Bags Waldorf Kindergartners keep their extra clothes in (they spend at least one hour outside daily in all weather). Like last year, our booth will be a small retreat from the bustling festival. Children can engage in a small quiet craft that engages fine motor development and learn a new skill to take with them.”
As glad as Tom has been with his sons’ education at Olympia Waldorf School, (“I’m extremely happy with the school,” he says as a parent. “It’s a great spot for building confidence.”) they are equally happy to have them as their sand sculpting lead.
“We are so lucky to have Tom as our architect,” says Erica. “He’s an amazing coach and carver. In fact, he would be a great teacher. He gives the team the basics, and then helps each carver along, giving tips and encouragement. He’s positive and upbeat, but also keeps us on track. What more could we ask for?”
While Tom and team wait all year for Sand in the City, the ideas for the build may not come until the final weeks before the event. We will have to wait a few more weeks to see what masterpiece Olympia Waldorf School unveils.
To see if Waldorf will take home more awards, and to see other exciting sand sculptures, visit the 15th annual Sand in the City at the Hand’s On Children’s Museum in downtown Olympia.
The event kicks off with Sand in the City Gala from 7:00 – 11:00 p.m. on Friday, August 21. This is a Party with a Purpose just for grown-ups, and the museum will close at 3:00 p.m. in preparation for the fundraising celebration.
You can find a complete event schedule here but be sure to check out the Big Beach Party on Saturday, August 22 from 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. and Grandparent’s Day on Sunday, August 23 from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.