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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Building A Beach Without An Ocean: It Happens Here!

By Jen Thomas
08:07AM / Friday, June 22, 2007

Eagle Street is expected to become a sandy beach on July 11 for the 4 p.m.- 7 p.m. "Eagle Street Beach Party." [iberkshires file photo]
North Adams - This city is about 175 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, but on July 11, a beach will be downtown.

On that day, historic Eagle Street will be transformed from an eclectic, one-way city street into a vast stretch of sandy beach, as part of the 9th yearly Eagle Street Beach Party.

The family-friendly event attracts hundreds of people to the downtown for a day of fun, according to event founder, artist and property developer Eric Rudd.

"It’s just a fun event and for some kids, it’s their one day in the summer to go to the beach," said Rudd.

Rudd launched the beach party in 1999, as part of the Contemporary Artists Center’s "Downtown Installations." exhibit. He envisioned the historic-street-turned-beach as a piece of public art.

"It’s my creative community art piece," he said. "It started as my original idea."

Rudd stopped short of saying that a number of subsequent municipal "beach parties" came from the publicity his idea generated, but he noted that three years after he debuted the beach party idea, many major cities across the globe developed similar summer attractions, including Paris.

"I’m just telling the facts. I’m an artist and if I had known it was done before, I wouldn’t have done it," Rudd said.

Building the beach means hauling approximately 250,000 pounds of donated sand from Adams’ Specialty Minerals, Inc. in city-owned dump trucks. The material is later recycled for uses such as highway sanding during the winter months.

As part of the tradition, the bash will also feature special entertainment, games and music. The music this year will be organized by local musician and music teacher Jamie Choquette. Additional beach party supporters include the City of North Adams, the Adams Co-Operative Bank, Smith, Watson and Company, LLP of Great Barrington and the North Adams SteepleCats. Beach toys and prizes are made available at no cost to families who attend the beach party.

"Just about everybody who shows up will receive something," Rudd said.

Children will be provided with plastic pails and other beach toys. Prizes, including SteepleCat tickets, will be awarded to winners in a sand sculpture contest.

"When I created this, I was looking for ways to bring art to the downtown," Rudd said. "It’s about a bigger connection with the arts. There’s not much difference between a sculpture in the sand and a sculpture in the museum. These kids could grow up to be famous contemporary artists."

With some amazing sculptures in recent memory, Rudd is eager to see what will take shape at this year’s festivities.

"The only thing that changes every year is the energy and the art that is made," said Rudd. "It’s such a fun event and everybody wins."

Jen Thomas may be reached via e-mail at jthomas@iberkshires.com or at 413-663-3384 ext. 23.
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