CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A 25-foot sand sculpture of President Barack Obama brings some of Myrtle Beach to the Democratic National Convention's host city. But landlocked Charlotte is nearly 200 miles from the ocean – and the sand is actually from a mine in South Carolina.
Perhaps the biggest hazards for the sculpture, though, are periodic rains coming through Charlotte that have required some quick repairs to ward off minor water damage. Some have said the indentations from rain drops made him appear to have acne.
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce paid $30,000 to build the sculpture that sits a few blocks from the convention hall, said spokeswoman Nora Battle. Fifteen tons of mine sand were used because the fine grains of beach sand can be unstable in a sculpture.
Sand sculptor Larry Hudson said it took a team of five people about 3 days to finish the sculpture, which shows the president with his arms crossed and smiling broadly. Hudson said the sculptors finished Saturday just before a large thunderstorm struck, requiring some quick repair work.
“That's kind of the hazard of sand sculpting,” said Hudson, who works for Team Sandtastic out of Sarasota, Fla.
The group has done sand sculptures for Myrtle Beach before, including Democratic presidential candidates before a 2008 debate there and Republicans before a presidential debate earlier this year.
Myrtle Beach officials say the sculpture is an excellent way to get people to think about coming for a vacation. The chamber would not specify whether any public money or funds from a 1 percent sales tax for tourism promotion was used to pay for the sculpture or the chamber’s hospitality venue, where media covering the convention will be treated to free food and an open bar.
Dozens of people stopped by the sculpture over the weekend, with many getting their photos taken. One of them was Nevada delegate Loretta Harper.
“I was speechless. That's President Obama -- so cool. I tweeted it out right away,” she said.
Harper said she sees lots of sand around her home in Las Vegas, “but nothing like that good looking president.”