Les Terwilleger says the sand found at Waterfront Park beneath the I-64 overpass is the worst sand he’s ever been in. And he would know. Terwilleger was once the second place finalist at the World Sand Sculpture Championship, pro-am division.
He was contacted last-minute to see if he could do anything with the sand, albeit subpar, on the Forecastle festival grounds.
“So I thought, ‘Okay, we can put something together,’” he says. “It’s not going to be special, it’s not going to be anything unique.’”
But still, he’s here in the sand with an arsenal of combs, shovels and brushes to at least carve out the Forecastle logo, a guitar and some musical notes. If he has time, maybe even a fleur de lis.
Terwilleger, who also goes by “The Lestache,” thanks to his bushy, black mustache, says he got into sand sculpture in 1993 at Panama City Beach.
“I was a little over-served on the beach and my wife said, ‘Sit down! You’re drunk,’” he says. “So I sat down in a sand chair and I just started moving the sand around. I looked at it and it looked like a big Indy car tire, so once she let me get up, I took my kid’s plastic toys and built an Indy car around it.”
He left vacation that year already anticipating what he would make the year after. And the year after that.
Terwilleger — a former New York City firefighter and a current commercial flooring rep — says he’s about 900 days away from retirement. But he’s not sure if he’s going to go into sand sculpting full-time.
His other two hobbies — welding lawn sculptures and painting bowling balls — keep him pretty busy too.