More than 300 Cannon Beach residents gather on the beach Wednesday evening for a town photo. The photo session was preceded by the construction of a 35-foot long, 7-foot high sand sculpture of Gulliver, from the childrens tale, Gullivers Travels. A bonfire followed the photo session.
NANCY McCARTHY The Daily Astorian
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Smile Cannon Beach! Your picture has been captured for posterity (slideshow)
CANNON BEACH - The town of Cannon Beach turned out Wednesday evening for a special "photo opp" - an opportunity to take a picture of itself.
As local photographer George Vetter, standing on a crane about 20 feet in the air, shouted directions through a bullhorn to more than 300 residents, few listened. They were having too good a time greeting each other, making jokes and settling into positions where they could be seen from the camera's lens.
The scene was on the beach, with Haystack Rock in the background. Just an hour before the photo shoot, several volunteers spent the afternoon sculpting a giant sleeping Gulliver, hero of the children's story, "Gulliver's Travels" from five truckloads of sand. The sculpture was part of a promotion for "Sandcastle Day" on Saturday.
Longtime Cannon Beach artist and Gulliver designer Bill Steidel led his team of sand sculptors in the creation of the 35-foot long, 7-foot tall Gulliver.
When the Sandcastle Day first began in 1964, Steidel carved sand fantasies every year for several years. He had always wanted to do Gulliver but never got around to it.
"One reason I didn't do Gulliver before was because everyone knows what a human looks like," explained Steidel. "When you do a dragon, no one can tell you if it's wrong because no one has actually seen a dragon. A whale is just a big bump with two eyes and a tail. An octopus -- the only thing you have to know is that it has eight legs. We knew we had to keep a human in scale."
Then he shrugged with a grudging acceptance. "This is going to be out of scale because so many people are working on it."
The annual Sandcastle Day begins Saturday with sculpting by a master's group at 8 a.m. Judging begins at 1:30 p.m. Activities also will be staged at Main City Park, behind the chamber of commerce building, starting at 3:30 p.m.
The town's photo shoot may have been a bit more chaotic than Vetter had planned, with last-minute participants dashing into place. Everyone carried a sheet of paper with a large black-and-white number on it. Vetter had them hold the numbers in front of them for a first photo. The numbers corresponded to a sign-up sheet so, when the photo was done, people could be identified.
Then, with that photo done, it was time for the real town picture.
"I'm going to sound the horn two times," Vetter told crowd, which may or may not have been listening. "The first time, I want you to close your eyes. The second time, I want you to open them, so you won't be squinting when I take the photo."
As with any good picture, it took several tries for the perfect shot. Eventually, the crowd was released. Just in time, too, because some in the group were becoming a little weary of all that smiling.
Then it was time for the shot of the town's kids beside the sleeping Gulliver. With parents dashing in once in awhile to straighten a child's hair or move them into a better place, Vetter patiently waited for everyone to get ready. Then, for fun, he had them make silly faces and pretend they were, like Gulliver, sleeping on the beach.
Next, came the town's dogs, who, some might have said, were better behaved than any of those in the other group shots. Proud owners and furry friends posed peacefully together.
At last, as the sun started to set, it was time for - what else? - a town bonfire, with, of course, a helping of some gooey s'mores to top off the evening.