Sand in North Adams? At Eagle Street Beach Party, patrons dig it

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NORTH ADAMS — It was like a sunny Southern California day, with high temperatures, a slight breeze and beachgoers playing in the sand and soaking up the sun.

But this beach party was landlocked — on Eagle Street in North Adams.

The 21st Eagle Street Beach Party is what happens every year when crews dump 500,000 pounds of sand donated by Specialty Minerals on the streets and spread it around. Even before the start time of 3:30 p.m., according to beach party creator Eric Rudd, families start showing up in beach garb, ready to play in the sand and in the toddler pools filled with water along the street.

There were sand sculptors of all ages on their hands and knees shaping and creating with sand buckets and a bit of water.

"The biggest thing is to make sure the sand gets here and is spread out in time," said Rudd, an artist and developer who handed out 250 tickets to the North Adams SteepleCats game. He also made available 300 beach buckets. Jack's Hot Dogs was handing out gift certificates, Desperado's was giving away nachos and water, and there were contests and prizes. Entertainer Lita Williams was DJing music.

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"Even after 21 years, it's still surprising to me when I see a street covered with sand from curb to curb," Rudd said. "It's an old-fashioned family event."

At 7 p.m. it became the grown-ups' time to party, with an evening fiesta including an on-street cash bar from Desperado's restaurant along with music and dancing courtesy of local musicians. Through the afternoon and evening, Rudd estimated, more than 1,000 people would come by for a little summer fun.

The event, started by Rudd in 1999, has become a regional tradition for hundreds of families, and now some who were kids in the beginning are bringing their children to the party.

Afterward, crews return to scrape up all the sand and truck it to the city garage for use treating roads during the next winter, and for other projects.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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