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Sandsational Sand Sculpting Returns to Regatta For 4th Year

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The talented team of artists that created Pittsburgh's largest sand sculpture is back at the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, working on something bigger and better.

Take 160 tons of sand, add a handful of talented sculptors, and you wind up with an impressive, if temporary, work of art. It's the fourth straight year that Sandsational Sand Sculpting has created the signature exhibit for the Regatta.

Company owner Jill Harris loves working with the local river sand.

"It really sticks together well," she explained. "Where we we live in Florida, believe it or not, the sand doesn't like to stick together well. It's great for the beach, but not for sculpting."

The sculpture marks the 200th anniversary of a poem called the "Defense of Fort McHenry." If that doesn't ring a bell, the name was later changed to the "Star Spangled Banner."

"Francis Scott Key made the poem, and he found the text fit very well with a popular drinking song," sculptor Thomas Koet said.

Though they considered focusing on the ship where the author was held prisoner, Harris said, "The flag would have been way in the distance, and it would have been really small, and I really wanted it to be this big grand statement."

Onlookers stop by so often, they're like old friends.

"I come down here about four times a week, and naturally I got to know Jill and Thomas," Tim Driscoll of Shaler said. "They do wonderful work."

"I've been taking pictures like crazy," Kathryn Sloan of Pittsburgh agreed. "I love this work."

That river sand will go eventually back where it came from. But Thomas Koet says that's OK.

"We hope it's going to make lots of good memories for the people who come."
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