Sand festival takes shape

Arvada-based nonprofit Epic Experience joins Sand in the City

Posted 6/27/16

Playing in the sand — it’s just fun.

And for the team at Epic Experience, joining the Sand in the City festival was about fun, and awareness.

“Sand seemed like a great way to bring everybody together and have a good time,” said Nancy …

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Sand festival takes shape

Arvada-based nonprofit Epic Experience joins Sand in the City

Posted

Playing in the sand — it’s just fun.

And for the team at Epic Experience, joining the Sand in the City festival was about fun, and awareness.

“Sand seemed like a great way to bring everybody together and have a good time,” said Nancy Ferro, founder of the nonprofit organization that provides outdoor excursion camps for adults with cancer and survivors. “And we wanted to spread awareness on what we do in our community.”

With a little bit of skill, and a lot of creativity, the Epic Experience team joined eight others in a giant sand sculpting build day, June 24, to create a variety of sandy scenes. Each team — made up of 20 or more people from a particular business or group — started designing scenes in April, and over the past few months watched as the process unfolded from design and fabrication to practice days and finally, completion.

“It’s hard work,” said Kami Welch, Arvada Chamber of Commerce president and organizer of the two-day community festival and beach party event. “They pack it (the sand) in until noon, and you feel a little nervous … but then they start to carve and it’s amazing what they come up with.”

With over 120 tons of sand, the teams had a lot of work to do.

Spread evenly among the groups, the sand first had to be shoveled into the teams’ various molds. Next the forms are sprayed with water and packed in tightly so that when the molds come off; the sand is structured and primed for carving.

The sculptures, ranging from an enchanted castle and a dragon to “Finding Dory” characters and beyond, take about six hours to complete. Once finished the sculptures were judged, and the winning team received a $500 donation to the charity of its choice. All nine sculptures plus a pro-sculpted photo booth were highlighted over the festival weekend.

This year, the Epic team, self-proclaimed rookies in the sand-sculpting arena, decided to go big on adventure creating a landscape of kayaking cartoon minions down a river to tie directly to their mission.

“We do adventure therapy,” said Jen Tucker, the team’s captain, who has stage four melanoma. “We teach our campers how to white water kayak. In that week, we do things that are a little more extreme to push people and empower them to get back into life.”

Now in its fourth year, Epic Experience takes 13 adults every summer to a 250-acre ranch for one week and teaches them how to kayak, snowshoe or ski. This free experience allows those individuals to bond with others in the cancer community and teaches them about life beyond doctor’s appointments, scans and checkups.

“Cancer can be such an isolating disease,” said Chad Latta, the team’s artistic talent and colorectal cancer survivor. “Your world becomes all about treatment, doctor’s appointments and surgeries, but it’s not all like that — you can still live it and have fun.”

As a light rain fell on the teams, all the teams, no matter their message, looked like they were having fun.

“My favorite part of this experience is the camaraderie,” said Hazel Senz, a camper with stage four lung cancer. “A lot of the folks here (on their team) are campers from different camps ... it’s a great opportunity to get out there and show that many — many of us can live beyond cancer.”

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