A Pennsylvania family won this year's New Jersey Sandcastle Contest with a massive sand sculpture of a shark fighting an octopus — aptly named "Shark vs. Octopus."
Hundreds of amateur sand sculptors from across the state and elsewhere braved the oppressive heat, which reached the upper 90s, Wednesday in Belmar for the 26th annual sandcastle competition on 18th Avenue beach.
Locally, Billy Morace, of East Brunswick, took second place in the 8-11 age group for "Italian Dinner."
The air was hot and the sand was dry, but that didn't stop the Holliday family from crossing the Delaware river for their 8 a.m. arrival on the sands of Belmar and working straight through until the judging began at noon.
Chris and his son Alex, 15, daughter Courtney, 17, and wife Lori along with their friends Jackson Hurlbert, 15, Brandon McKee, 15, and Craig Meschel, 15, all of Yardley, Pa., will be bringing the "Best on the Beach" trophy back home.
This was the second-straight year a family from Yardley, Pa., won the "Best on the Beach" prize at the annual contest. Last year another family, the Coyles, , "Belmar Remembered."
Chris Holliday said this was only his second year in the competition, but the professional designer added he's spent his childhood making sandcastles and other sculptures.
When asked by one of the organizers who won the battle, Holliday said, "I don't know. They're still fighting."
Here are this year's prize winners in each category:
Ages 7 and younger
- 1st Place: Russell Holister, of North Jersey, for "Frosty Goes to the Beach"
- 2nd Place: Ava Verine, of Wall, for "Lifeguard Turtle"
- 3rd Place: Frankie Novello, of Jackson, for "Frankie's Fish"
- 1st Place: Grace, Isabelle and Helen, of Wall, for "Flip Flop"
- 2nd Place: Billy Morace, of East Brunswick, for "Italian Dinner"
- 3rd Place: Team 10th Ave., of Belmar, for "Olympic Tribute"
- 1st Place: Tage and Nick, of Allentown, for "Unsinkable Titanic"
- 2nd Place: Steffie and Grace, of Sea Girt, for "Sea Lion"
- 3rd Place: Sarah, Montana, Allie and Emma, of Colts Neck, for "Krusty Krab"
Ages 16 and older
- 1st Place: Bob Donaldson, of Lawrenceville, for "Sandcastle & Dragon"
- 2nd Place: Larry Lowman, of Wildwood Crest, for "Shining City on a Hill"
- 3rd Place: Veronica and Michael, of Clifton, for "Minut Tereth (Lord of the Rings)"
- 1st Place: Pink Animal Clan, of Belmar, for "Erroneous Expedition"
- 2nd Place: Sunsations, of Belmar, for "Sunny"
- 3rd Place: Monroe Township Library, for "Dream Big"
- 1st Place: Guerrera Family, of Old Bridge, for "The Classic"
- 2nd Place: Pszchielvy Family, of Tinton Falls, for "The Bat Mobile"
- 3rd Place: Tropavplmann Family, of Wayne, for "Pool at the Beach"
Best on the Beach
- Chris, Alex, Courtney and Lori Holliday, Jackson Hurlbert, Brandon McKee and Craig Meschel, of Yardley, Pa., for "Shark vs. Octopus"