Siesta’s ‘Sandman’ remains a mystery

Sculptor has become a regular feature on the beach

Harriet Cuthbert. Contributed photo
Contributed photo

Who is the “Sandman”? Is he an imaginary person who materializes at Siesta Beach every weekend, where he creates his masterpieces?

He never talks to anyone; he just quietly goes about his work, concentrating on each shovel of sand and seeming to know exactly where it will go. He makes it clear by his actions that he has a vision of what he wants to make each time he appears. His mind obviously is made up way before he arrives at the beach.

Many, many visitors stop and stare or take photos as he works, and maybe they try to guess his ideas. None of us who watch him really know what the result will be until he has finished and has carved the title in the sand next to his piece.

The Sandman seems to have a very set routine. For the past three weeks that I have been observing him, he has worn the same blue swimsuit; he has sat in exactly the same spot; and he has begun sculpting about 9:30 a.m. and has finished his project about four to five hours later. He seems to use only a large spade and a pencil-sized pick for close-up and detailed work.

The first time I saw the Sandman, I was at the Siesta Public Beach Celebration, marking the completion of the improvements at the park. I was taking my regular walk along the water and he was finishing a beautiful rendering of Snoopy. Everyone identified the subject immediately, each so proud of himself or herself as people continued to snap “selfies” and regular photos. I think the Sandman was happy to hear their comments.

He never lets anyone too close to his pieces for fear, I believe, that they will accidentally touch them. That is definitely a no-no.

Snoopy had a wonderful expression, full of joy and mischief (like any dog) and almost a little twinkle in his eyes.

The following Sunday was too beautiful to stay home, so I walked to the beach and, a little while later, I found the Sandman busy at work again. He was very still, evidently absorbed in his creation and thoughts. I was there a little too early to guess what the result would be. About an hour or so later, I wandered over and saw a beautiful elephant, lying on its side, smiling peacefully and just relaxing on Siesta Beach. I told the Sandman that the elephant looked so sweet and content, and I got a polite, “Thank you, ma’am,” in response. I did not dare say anything more.

Once again, a week later, I returned to the beach, and the crowds were so huge, I almost could not find the Sandman. But he figuratively surfaced, near the green lifeguard stand, happily at work and making us guess once more what magic he had up his sleeve. About two hours later, we saw the result — a marvelous, jolly leprechaun, complete with a green hat, who was “asleep,” probably from too much beer in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

Who is the Sandman? I guess I will never know, but I will always remember his glorious sand sculptures.