Every June — in rain, shine, or near gale winds — teams of eager sculptors have filled the beaches in front of Haystack Rock to create their own sandy ephemera. In a race against time and tide, many residents can attest to seeing the bobbing lights of teams building before the sun has even risen. Sandcastle Day is an event as unique and as synonymous with the town as the striking monolith towards which it points.
The first time that organized “sand-castling” began to take shape was just after the 1964 Tsunami that inundated the coastline. The devastation caused by the tsunami affectedCannonBeachin a number of ways. The town experienced one of the lowest tides in historic times, in fact the tide was so low that local youth were able to enter the infamous cave of Haystack Rock. At around this time CannonBeach also became disconnected from Highway 101 due to the construction of a by-pass. This was just another obstacle that made the trip to Cannon Beach that much more difficult. Many would admit that the life-blood of Cannon Beach has been tourism, so when tourism dropped significantly, concerned citizens pulled on their thinking caps to try to figure out an event that would cheer up residents and make it worth the trouble to visit again.
Three intrepid women, Margaret Atherton, Billie Grant and Marion Crowell created a day devoted to family fun at the beach. They christened it: Sandcastle Day. Since then it has only grown in size and popularity as the years have passed, bringing a few thousand participants nearer to tens of thousands. The plan to bring tourism back to Cannon Beach was successful and then some, although there were those who thought it too successful.
In 1980 the Sandcastle Day Contest became a topic of heated debate. A select few felt that it had become too “commercialized” and brought more people than our small town could take. Many others, such as founding member Marion Crowell, felt that Sandcastle Day was simply a fun event and should continue. And indeed it has. This is one of a few events along the coast that can be enjoyed as thoroughly by locals as by people from around the world. Sandcastle Day is an event born of whimsy that many look forward to each year.