By MARK TODD - firstname.lastname@example.org
Township Park's big beach will be the focal point of a titantic "battle" this weekend, but for two hours Thursday the sandy stretch was the source of some creativity.
The Conneaut Public Library's annual sand sculpture contest brought six teams of competitors and many spectators to Lake Erie's shore, even as preparations were under way for the two-day D-Day re-enactment that launched this morning.
"Everybody's having a great time," said Kathy Pape, the library's executive director.
Under blue skies and amid perfect temperatures, the artists fashioned a variety of objects using only products on the beach: sand, stones, bricks and bird feathers. A team from Ashtabula — Stephanie Laird, Valerie Ovak, Olivia Ovak, Hannah Laird, Gabrielle Frasure and Dave Cusman — captured first place with their monstrous and perfectly proportioned spider.
Other creations included an Army tank (in honor of the D-Day event) and butterflies. Winners received, appropriately enough, miniature sand castle trophies and goodie bags courtesy of the library.
The library staff couldn't afford to take a breather after the contest was over. Pape and her staff immediately trudged to the top of the park's east bluff to erect the library's giant, inflatable movie screen for an outdoor showing of "Casablanca."
"We're having fun," Pape said.
The D-Day re-enactment features displays and demonstrations at encampments that contain nearly 1,000 Allied and Axis re-enactors. Two battles — 4:40 p.m. today and 11 a.m. Saturday — will precede a recreation of the famed beachfront assault at 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.