SOUTH PADRE ISLAND Hit the Trail! The South Padre Island Sand Castle Trail, that is.

Since the end of the 2011 Sandcastle Days event, a handful of master sand sculptors from such faraway beaches as Canada, Florida, the Netherlands and Singapore have been busy creating what trail founder Lucinda "sandy feet" Wierenga refers to as "semi-permanent" masterpieces all over South Padre Island. The sculptures feature a variety of themes, including an "Angry Birds" Tiki; a large pelican; a surfer hanging ten; a giant floppy-eared stuffed bunny; a bust of "The Turtle Lady Ila Loetcher; and a musical band of fish.

These new stops on the trail join an ever growing list of semi permanent sand sculptures created and maintained by local sculptors sandy feet, Walter "Amazin' Walter" McDonald, and Dennis Barrett. They are created with local sand mixed in with clay and Elmer's Glue. After they have been carved, they are treated with a "magic potion" that turns them into something very much resembling concrete -- provided they are given a chance to dry thoroughly.

According to Wierenga, this is "just the beginning." She adds, "South Padre Island is the Sand Castle Capital of the World! I want to cover the place up with awesome sand sculpture that residents and island visitors alike can seek out and enjoy." She doesn't know how long they will last, though some experimental sculptures she has created in her yard have stayed intact for over a year already, and those built in protected areas could last indefinitely. "The sculptures should stand up well to weather and finger pokes, and minor damage is repairable. I hope the public will enjoy and respect them."

All of the sculptures built so far have been funded by private donations. In the future, sponsors will be able to get their names carved into the sculptures for a nominal fee. For a map of the trail as well as a photo gallery and information on how to commission your own sand castle trail masterpiece, please visit sandcastletrail.com.

The development of the Sandcastle Trail was approved recently by the South Padre Island City Council.