Sandcastles fashioned into D.C. replicas welcome RNC delegates

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While a handful of resorts along the Pinellas County beaches are putting finishing touches on signs, paint and even landscaping, one Treasure Island resort is sculpting their first impressions in the sand, reports Leigh Armstrong and Cherlene Willis.

“We just wanted to welcome the delegates and everyone with the RNC with a true Florida style and so we used sand, which is the best thing we have going on our beaches,” Clyde Smith, Bilmar Beach Resort General Manager said.

The Bilmar Beach Resort commissioned World Champion Sand Sculptors Dan Doubleday and Meredith Corson to create two patriotic sculptures for the RNC. The resort will host two delegations: Connecticut and North Dakota.

The couple spent three days creating a replica of the White House.

“When you do something like this, and have to copy something, it’s tedious.” Dan Doubleday, withSanding Ovations, said.

They started the Lincoln Memorial on Friday.

“Faces are tough anyway, and then to do one that looks like somebody dead on. Everybody knows what Lincoln looks like. It’s a challenge but we love it,” Doubleday said.

Sanding Ovations brought in 40 tons of sand, which was transformed into sandstone, for both sculptures. They plan to finish up with the Lincoln Memorial in time for the delegates to arrive Sunday morning.

Clyde Smith says “it just made sense” to have Sanding Ovations create the pieces. Treasure Island was dubbed the Sand Sculpture Capitol of Florida by Former Governor Jeb Bush.

The Bilmar Beach Resort is expecting about 150 people with the delegations from Connecticut and North Dakota on Sunday, which he says is perfect timing.

“Traditionally the week before Labor Day is one of the slowest weeks of the year, this year it’s one of our most outstanding weeks,” Smith said.

The Bilmar and it’s staff are excited about the arrival of the delegates and the spotlight on Tampa Bay and Treasure Island, said Smith.

“It’s about Tampa Bay and what we have a chance to do and the millions of people who are going to be seeing us.” Smith said.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.