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Suzanne's Tin Foil Hat Contest and Walk Around the Block

A time-honored Texas SandFest tradition

On the final Saturday night of Texas SandFest, you may cruise by the Port Aransas Beach Lodge and notice a strange sight...a gaggle of sand sculptors topped with shiny tin foil hats!

The Tin Foil Hat Contest and Walk Around the Block is held each final Saturday night of SandFest. All sculptors are given 24 feet of heavy duty aluminum foil to create their masterpiece topper. This year, the party will be on April 20 at 8 p.m. All tin foil hats are welcome!


History of the Tin Foil Hat Contest

Hear the story of the very first tin foil hat contest rom the mouth of the one who created it...Suzanne Altamare!

"So for years and years I've thought it would be very funny to have a tin foil hat contest at a sand contest, because sand sculptors can come up with the most amazing things. Federal Way [a site of a sand sculpting competition in Washington State] wouldn't let me do it because of the very real massive electrical charge in the air. I still think that the high tension lines over the parking lot at Federal Way would not possibly have discharged into aluminum foil! They blew their chance.

Well, Port Aransas is always just too much fun and they really don't care what kind of crazy things we want to do. Yesterday, 25 square foot rolls of thin tin foil were distributed to the sculptors who wanted to participate. The rules were that you could only use the tin foil and nothing else. Three stayed up really late working on theirs, causing one to arrive late for the sand contest this morning. 

Tonight was the big night. Everyone was to arrive at a certain area of our hotel wearing their hats around 8ish. Wow. Carl's had horns like a Viking with a long tail in back. Captain Steve had a tiny little hat no bigger than a ficus leaf with a tiny point. Bruce went all out with a wig, eye patch, and a beautiful Pirate captain's hat with infinite detail. Sandy Feet had a beautiful hat that you could actually wear to a nice event...almost a 20s style flapper hat...awesome. Bill had the Rasta hat with a dreads. Morgan had her Wingnut hat (a metal nut with wings) plus her Wingnut cape. Abe had the infamous Asian Swamp Eel hat complete with buttocks. Mark had a Thor helmet. Sean had a rocking snowman. Albert had an Amazing Walter beard. I had an Atlantian War helmet.

We figured it would be a good idea to go into the bar for a People's Choice vote.This is a bar where local Texans hang out. Linda Lu emceed the contest, announcing our names. We "worked" the crowd, then everyone hooted or clapped until we had Abe (Eel hat) and I think it was Bruce with the pirate hat that were tied. Of course they had to do a "Walk-Off." Even without the back story of the Asian Swamp Eel....Abe won!

We went back outside and started taking photos of all the hats under the light at the end of the porch. A little kid saw us and got SO excited.  "I WANT ONE OF THOSE!" He was so excited that Carl gave him the rest of his tin foil and it wasn't long at all before he came running back with his own tin foil hat.  Now, through all of this the people in houses across from the Beach Lodge had been watching, and they began to make tin foil hats.

Some of us went over and all the people at the first house with tin foil hats came out. Many pictures were taken.  All of us together went to the other neighbor's house, where they were also making tin foil hats. Lots of cheering and laughing! The whole tin foil hat mob then headed down the street. About 25 of us were loudly chanting, "TIN FOIL HATS! TIN FOIL HATS!" Neighbors were out on their decks hooting and cheering.   One guy came out swinging a huge tin foil spear around and threw it in a palm tree. It was so loud..."TIN FOIL HATS, TIN FOIL HATS!"

As we headed back to the Beach Lodge, chanting, several cars passed by blowing their horns and hooting. Naturally, it was only appropriate to head back to the bar for another march through. The cheering started as we entered with our, "TIN FOIL HATS, TIN FOIL HATS!"

As Morgan said, it was epic! What shocked me was how incredibly contagious it was. It was AWESOME! It was absolutely surreal and hysterically funny, too! We are pretty much thinking that it's a new tradition.  It was one of those rare, strange events that we will never forget.

So, my first tin foil hat contest...SUCCESS!

I love Texas!