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This Builder of Sand Castles Likes Beaches That Aren't Shifty

October 28, 1986|HERBERT J. VIDA

It may seem like easy work, being a professional sand castle builder. But Kent B. Trollen, 38, of Newport Beach says there are some hang-ups. For one thing, the sand castle building season lasts only from May through October. For another, pros can't build just anywhere.

"The wedge-shaped sand in Seal Beach is the best," said Trollen, who charges up to $60 an hour for his sometimes massive sculptures. "Sand at other Orange County beaches is too clean, and building castles there is like trying to stack marbles."

But even with good "dirty" sand, he said, "it's water that spells success. It's the binding agent." It could be the short season or the dearth of people willing to part with $60 an hour for an expert, but "there are only about six of us on the West Coast who earn part of our living building sand castles," said Trollen, partner in a Newport Beach architectural firm.

"I guess we're all a little strange."

Building sand castles is not all a matter of economics, he said. "You can make some very good money, but having fun doing it is my primary motive. I think making it a full-time venture, filling out contracts and worrying about business would take the edge off."

Trollen said he does half a dozen professional sand-building projects a year, although he often builds others for workshops and gives free classes for the United Way, which then holds a fund-raising sand castle-building contest.

"It's funny," said Trollen, "but when you start sand sculpture, you get the fever or you don't. And if you do, it's carried to the extreme. There's an unspoken magic that binds people with this common interest."

He said it is not unusual to see professional sand builders fly cross-country for an event such as the recent Newport Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce-sponsored contest where pros worked from plans to make sculptures that offered political, social and environmental comments, along with some plain old sand castles.

Beside the beach, Trollen sometimes trucks masonry sand to inland sites to build sand castles and other structures, such as a futuristic city that ends up on magazine covers.

"If someone comes around with enough money, we'll do it," said Trollen, even though he complains that sand sculpture takes up a lot of his weekends.

"It interrupts my relations with females," he said. "You have to love building sand castles to do it that much."

Sky-diver Jim Dunne parachuted to the football field during half-time, stripped off the jump suit covering his tuxedo and walked up to startled Los Alamitos High School Homecoming Queen Michelle McLinden, 17, and presented her a bouquet of roses.

British secret agent 007 would have been proud.

"Yes, it's true," writes former longtime Chapman College track coach Bill Selvin of Irvine, "that 12 old men are planning to run relay-style from the Southland to Las Vegas and the average age is nearly 76 years." The oldest are 86, 83 and 82.

The run, to be sometime during the cool months of winter, will be 286 miles that Selvin hopes will "inspire millions of Americans to lead a more active life, thus a healthier one." Beside, he said, the geriatric joggers expect to establish a world record for their age group.

There's one catch. It costs $10,000 to promote the run, which started in the early 1970s as a nine-man relay and has continued since. Selvin said he would happily accept donations (714) 544-0332 "so I don't have to end up paying for it myself."

Max Schulman, 51, a consultant engineer of Buena Park, and other volunteers at the recent Silverado Days celebration in Buena Park took 100 pies in their faces to raise about $800 for the local senior citizen center. "Some kids got carried away," moaned Schulman. "One guy thought he broke his nose and so did I."

Acknowledgments--Santa Ana-born Sid L. Carr, 63, who said "it has been fun, but it's all over now," as he was honored by the Orange County Transit District on his retirement. He started as a bus driver in 1946 and retired as lead supervisor at the Santa Ana Terminal.

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