For the Browns, the ninth annual sand castle building contest at Downs Memorial Park in Pasadena Saturday was a family rivalry of sorts -- two generations competing side-by-side for the best design.
The elder Browns emerged victorious, having built a dragon with a castle on top. Their son and his family came in second with a German-style castle, complete with moat, trees and stone walkways.
"We came down just to build a castle and play in the sand," said Pat Brown, who with her husband, Ron, and 8-year-old grandchild, Jennifer, built the dragon. "It's a family activity."
Next door was Pat Brown's son, Mike, his wife, Stephanie, and their 3-year-old daughter, Alisha. Mike Brown, who is in the Air Force, had just returned from Germany, and the castle he built would fit in perfectly along the Rhine.
He settled for the Chesapeake Bay. "This gives the kids something to do instead of sitting inside watching Ninja Turtles all daylong," said Mike, who was visiting his parents.
Pat and Ron Browncaptured first place for team effort; Mike and Stephanie Brown took second in the same category. While waiting for the judging, they built a shark -- which took first prize for most original design.
Thisyear's was the second consecutive win for Pat and Ron Brown. Last year, however, only two families competed. On Saturday, five groups showed up to test their skills.
Park Rangers Bob Hicks and David DeVault, who served as judges, said it was the best turnout in a few years. "It is one of the easier programs to put on, and people seem to like it," DeVault said. "We try to keep them family-oriented."
Liz Montaner, of Severna Park, brought her 6-year-old son, Peter, to the park because he loves to build sand castles. "It is his love of life,"she said.
Peter built a circular castle with buildings inside andturrets along outside walls. "I like the activity," Peter said.
His mother was happy the contest wasn't larger. "I was concerned therewould be a big crowd," Montaner said. "We would have been intimidated. But the way it is so far, we are going to give it a shot."
The only regret Montaner had was not being allowed in the water. "That's the only frustrating part of the day," she said.
Peter's castle won second prize for most original design.