There isn’t a grain of truth to the rumor that this is the set for a sequel to Dune. But when the Chamber of Commerce of Treasure Island, Fla. was looking for a gimmick to boost the sagging spring tourist trade of the Gulf Coast isle, it hired Californians Gerry Kirk and Todd Vander Pluym to provide an attraction worthy of the Guinness Book of World Records. And did they ever.
Kirk, a building contractor, and Vander Pluym, an architect, are part-time professional sand sculptors who masterminded the reproduction of Bluebeard’s Castle. It stands 37’2″ high (believed to be a new world record) and is furnished with turrets, towers and domes. Even with the help of 22 unsalaried assistants and hundreds of volunteers, the project cost the island, private sponsors and three excavation companies about $80,000 (Kirk and Vander Pluym each got $400 a day plus expenses). Most of the construction materials were donated, including backhoes, dump trucks, 20 gallons of white glue and more than 3,600 tons of sand.
For a week the curious were charged $1 (50¢ for children) to climb the built-in walkways that crisscrossed the completed castle, but the publicity alone more than compensated for the tab. Good thing. Last week an excavation company leveled the shifting sands of time, and the work of a dozen days was simply gone with the wind.