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Darrell O'Connor


“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”

During the week, Darrell O'Connor works as a computer systems analyst with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals supporting and implementing Enterprise Software from German Software Company SAP. He lives in Wilmington, Delaware, but for the past 30+ years he's spent summer weekends playing in the sand in Dewey Beach. After some encouragement from family and friends, he entered his first contest in the mid 80s in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. While he didn’t place in that first competition, he continued to compete locally, eventually winning the Rehoboth contest nine times. In 2014, he ventured outside of Delaware and met master sculptor Matt Long at his pro-am contest in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, and a quick friendship developed over a mutual love of building castles in sand.

After years of trial-and-error sculpting, Darrell's castles became exponentially better now that he had someone to critique his work and show him new techniques. It was Matt who suggested that Darrell enter the amateur contest at the Siesta Key Crystal Classic in Florida, where he met Albert Lucio, Jr., who encouraged him to come to Texas to compete in the amateur contest at Texas SandFest. The vibe at SandFest was like nothing he had experienced before, and his sand life was changed forever when Albert invited him to compete as a semi-pro in 2021. Needless to say, the opportunity to meet and sculpt in the same gallery with Master Sculptors that he's admired from afar for years has been one of the highlights of Darrell's 30+ years of sand play. 

Darrell has created castles for numerous beach weddings and marriage proposals and lent his skills to several Delaware fundraisers and festivals including the Delaware State Fair, the Rehoboth Beach Sea Witch Festival, the Children’s Beach House Annual BBQ, the Dewey Beach Summer Vibes Festival, the Bridgeville Apple Scrapple Festival, the Dover Days Festival, the Great Delaware Pumpkin Carve, the Big Draw Art Festival, and the annual Polar Plunge for Special Olympics.