As the holiday season continues to take shape, this coastal city has started to kick off its annual festivities that showcase the area.

The city of South Padre Island opened its free second annual Holiday Sandcastle Village this week, which will be open through Jan. 13.

Located in a 30 by 60 foot white tent near Louie’s Backyard and Gravity Park, the exhibit has an array of large sand sculptures such as a snowman, Santa’s Christmas throne and an angel.

In addition to its 12 holiday-themed sculptures, the exhibit features a lighted musical show that runs every day from dusk to 9 p.m.

“I’m really happy that it’s finished,” said Lucinda “Sandy Feet” Wierenga, owner of Sandy Feet Sandcastle Services. “We had a lot of fun working on it, but now I’m excited to be able to share it with the world.”

Also featured in the Holiday Sandcastle Village is a sculpture of the late Sea Turtle, Inc. founder Ila Fox Loetscher holding an Atlantic green sea turtle that she rescued on Christmas Eve in the late 1980s.

Named “Merry Christmas,” she is the only mature female sea turtle resident at the facility.

Due to genetic defects, she is non-releasable and has been a permanent resident of Sea Turtle, Inc. since she was rescued.

“Ila is gone, but we love her still,” Wierenga said. “So we decided why not have her and Merry Christmas be in our exhibit and display that part of the Island’s history.”

The large sand sculpture was created by artist Abe Waterman.

“Really one of his amazing talents is that he’s able to capture somebody’s personality, not just their features,” Wierenga said. “So I thought it would be a really good project for him.”

Starting right after Sandcastle Days held in early October, Wierenga, along with eight other sculptors began creating the Holiday Sandcastle Village.

“It works out really well that our Sandcastle Days contest is so late in the season that we’re able to get the sculptors to stay a little bit longer,” Wierenga said. “Since many of the sculptors live in places like Holland or Canada, where it’s already getting cold in October, they really don’t mind extending their stay here and putting on this project.”

Wierenga, along with other artists, created the Island’s first Holiday Sandcastle Village in 2018 near the SPI Convention Centre.

“It was a great location, but I think a lot of people didn’t know about it or might not have gotten to see it because of how far north it was,” she explained. “So, this year we decided to put it in the middle of town.”

“I’ve worked on projects like this all over the world,” Wierenga said. “So it’s really exciting for me to be able to show people my community and what I do.”

Alana Hernandez