Sandcastle Hat Takes First Place in Del Mar Races Hat Contest

Published July 23, 2011 by Imperial Beach Patch.

IB Resident and employee Mike Guthrey never thought the hat he made in honor of this year’s would score him a first place win in theDel Mar Race hat contest.

“It was all kind of a fluke,” he said. “On Sunday night I realized that [Opening Day] was also my day off. And although the hat had nothing to do with the races, I figured I’d show up and see what happened.”

The next thing you know, he said, he’s being awarded a $300 check and a $100 gift certificate to the Del Mar Hat Company.

Guthrey, an avid hobbyist and artist, said he first started making his sandcastle hats six years ago.

“The first year I started with a ball cap that had a bunch of spray foam on it so it looked like there was a clump of sand stuck on it,” he said. “I had shells and other stuff on it to help create the illusion. It was just for fun, but when I walked down to the sandcastle competition there were a lot of people who asked if they could get a photo with me.”

As the years moved forward, he said, his creations grew increasingly elaborate.

“Last year my hat was about a foot and a half tall and I thought that was huge,” Guthrey said. “This year it just kept growing and wound up being about four feet in height and weighing between seven and eight pounds.”

His theme this year; Coney Island meets Sandcastle, led him to the creation of his East coast meets West coast work of art. In addition to having a boardwalk, food vendor stands, and a number of strategically placed pinwheels (that move with the wind), passersby will also note a DJ caricature, complete with turntables; set up atop of the whimsical scene.

“The hat actually plays vintage 60s surf music,” he said, noting that the hat’s construction began in December. “I easily spent several hundred dollars creating it, and I constructed all the caricatures by hand out of clay. It really is a piece of art.”

Guthrey will be making his rounds at the sandcastle competition this upcoming Sunday. He expects that as with years past, his latest creation will continue to draw quite a bit of attention.

“When I was at the races there was this one woman who kept looking at it, who eventually walked up and told me she just wanted to live there,” he said. “It really is whimsical. Last year’s hat was really a hit and I spent most of the day taking photos with people. I think I’ll be doing a lot of that this year too.”

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