The iconic U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition will return for its 31st year July 22-24, potentially bringing hundreds of thousands of people to Imperial Beach.
Friday, July 22
Kicking off this year’s event is the Sandcastle Dance, a 21-and-over party featuring live music at the .
The annual will be held at the from 9-11 a.m. The Teagan Taylor Trio will perform. Must RSVP.
Saturday, July 23
The following day the now in its 23rd year, will take place. Teams of five children ages 12 and under build their own sandcastles from 2-3:30 p.m., with winners announced at 4 p.m.
The original registration deadline has been extended to Saturday at noon, but you must ; it's $10 to sign up. Adult sponsors are needed to supervise but are not allowed to help build sandcastles or even enter the teams' plots of sand.
Alongside scheduled events Saturday is a street festival on Seacoast Drive from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., featuring more than 100 vendors.
In Pier Plaza Saturday and Sunday there will be music from reggae to swing to rock; .
Saturday and Sunday morning from 6-11 a.m. near Pier Plaza is a pancake breakfast hosted and sponsored by St. James Lutheran Church and the Imperial Beach Chamber of Commerce. It's $5 for pancakes, sausage and an orange drink.
Sunday, July 24
Sunday is the main event, when sand sculpting teams compete for top honors and $21,000 in cash prizes in the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Imperial Beach.
Professional builders will compete in a master’s class, which is divided between 3- and 10-person teams, while amateurs will compete in an open contest divided into several categories. The competition committee's judges decide the outcome; download registration forms here.
The Sheriff's Department will work security for the event and can be found .
No animals or weapons of any kind are allowed. Alcohol, skateboards and bicycles are also prohibited.
As in previous years, the entire event is organized and executed by volunteers. Volunteers are still needed in areas of entertainment recruitment, fundraising and sponsorship, and for tear down and setup.
Residents from outside Imperial Beach are welcome to join in.
The South Bay Union School District's Education Foundation will be parking cars at West View Early Learning Center and district offices on Elm Avenue both Saturday and Sunday in what is their largest fundraiser of the year. Park your car here .
As the competition has drawn more than 350,000 each weekend in years past and projections suggest crowds of more than 400,000 this year, traffic becomes a major concern.
In response to this reality, the Imperial Beach Public Safety Department has announced “Special Event No Parking” areas for the duration of the event.
The areas affected will be along both sides of Second Street, from Imperial Beach Boulevard to Palm Avenue, as well as the south side of Elder Avenue, from Seacoast Drive to Second Street.
Bus routes will also be affected, as the Seacoast Drive bus route will be relocated to Second Street for southbound traffic and Third Street for northbound traffic.
The closures will help ensure emergency vehicles will not be caught in the event's heavy traffic.
Signs marking the closed areas will appear 48 hours prior to the event, and enforcement of the zones, including towing and citations, will begin Friday.
The Sandcastle Competition That Almost Never Happened
Following a "tidal wave of budget cuts and loss of grant money" and a $50,000 increase in Sheriff's Department security costs, there was doubt for a few months earlier this year whether the annual event would take place, said the Competition Committee's Chairwoman Debbie Longley. But sponsors stepped up to fill the gap.