Grab the map: Yarmouth's Sand Sculpture Trail is free family adventure


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Jan 29, 2024

Grab the map: Yarmouth's Sand Sculpture Trail is free family adventure

Six mornings a week, Sean and Tracey Fitzpatrick wake up about 3:30 a.m. and

Six mornings a week, Sean and Tracey Fitzpatrick wake up about 3:30 a.m. and take their coffee out to watch the sun rise over Cape Cod, before settling in to make some sandcastles.

You may think it's a perfect vacation for these parents of three adults who ― at 56 (him) and 55 (her) ― are just about the right age for early retirement. But a quick glance at either of their biceps ― unflexed, mind you ― tells a different story.

"We work eight hours a day, six days a week, moving three tons of sand (each day!), packing it into forms with an asphalt tamper, and then we sit in the sun or the rain or the cold wind carving and smoothing before finishing with a setting coat," said Tracey, business manager for Fitzysnowman Sculpting but also does her share of the grunt work involved in creating sand sculptures.

Sean Fitzpatrick is the artist and designer ― and provides his share of the brute force needed to wrestle naturally shifting sand into 33 whimsical sculptures at locations throughout Yarmouth. "They have the biggest trail," said Sean, whose Saugus-based business creates sculptures all over the country.

An auto mechanic for 22 years, Sean discovered he could carve sand, snow or ice, 30 years ago when his daughter asked for a snow angel that "looked like Santa." But he avoids the hard stuff, like wood and stone carving.

2021:Far beyond castles: Imaginative Yarmouth Sand Sculpture Trail has 32 stops

The Fitzpatricks' workday runs from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., leaving them a few hours to explore the Cape before returning to the home they rent each year for 44 days as they build Yarmouth's trail (38 work days to build 33 sculptures including three days each for the oversized ones like the 15-ton car in front of the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center at 424 Route 28.) They had just finished building Luigi, of Super Mario Brothers fame, at Bass River Golf Course (Mario is at Bayberry Hills Golf Course. "They can't play together cause they cheat," Sean said.) and settled in the shade to talk.

Sean, who has been drawing since childhood, meets with business owners who sponsor a sculpture. After getting their ideas, he draws a sketch looking to represent their business with a touch of whimsy. One of his favorite sculptures this year is at Cape Cod Creamery where a grandmother ice cream cone sits in an Adirondack chair with kiddie cups on the chair's arms. Another favorite is at Taylor-Bray Farm where a ram with a book is "reading" to visiting children.

Tracey said Sean had to design the chair so people would not try to sit on it. The sculptures are designed to last through mid-October, but cannot withstand the weight, even of a child, or probing from curious fingers.

Two things keep the sculptures up: The sand is tightly packed, with water but no air, and then carved to create the shape. After it is finished, Tracey dissolves two tablespoons of wood glue into two cups of water, puts it in a sprayer and coats the sculpture.

"It's like paint on a house. It helps, it's important, but it doesn't hold your house up," Sean said.

Tracey added, "The first mistake people make is taking a bucket to the beach. You need something that's open on both ends, like a PVC pipe, so you can pack the sand and get the air out."

The folks at Fitzysnowman welcome people, especially kids, to watch them work. You can get a paper map from the Chamber of Commerce or find the Sand Sculpture Trail Map and photographs of creations online at

Yarmouth is celebrating 12 years of having what is now described as the biggest trail in the country. Yarmouth businesses who want one pay $995 with the balance paid by a grant, chamber officials said. After the season, the town removes excess sand. Fitzysnowman's work can also be seen on Cape at Cuffy's of Cape Cod's flagship location at 723 Main St. in West Dennis.

"We made the eyes with colored sand and set it in to the faces," Sean recalled. "That took hours for each one."

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