Sculpted completely out of sand, Sandi the Tree is at the center of a festive Florida celebration that includes light shows, music, games—and a whole lot of heart.

By Taylor Eisenhauer
November 15, 2018
Courtesy of the City of West Palm Beach

We love a good coastal Christmas tree, and this one—made entirely of sand—even supports a good cause! Since 2012, Sandi, a holiday tree sculpted from the finest sand in Florida, has enchanted the residents (and visitors) of West Palm Beach.

Standing at 35 feet tall—and sculpted using 700 tons of sand—Sandi dazzles with two light shows set to the cheery sounds of the season. Her 45,000 channels of lights glow along with the faces of the audience. She cycles through the shows from 6:00 until 10:00 (11:00 on weekends) every night from November 29 until December 31.

Courtesy of the City of West Palm Beach

While the light shows may be what bring visitors to the Waterfront initially, Sandi’s continuing narrative keeps them coming back year after year. “Sandi’s energy, sassy personality, and the love she gets back from the community are truly magnetic,” said Mary Pinak, community events manager for the City of West Palm Beach Department of Parks and Recreation. “People of all ages, from near and far, look forward to her return and the next chapter in her story.”

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Sandi has grown—in more ways than one—in the community since her first appearance in West Palm Beach. Before Sandi appeared in 2012, Pinak said the city brought in real Christmas trees from North Carolina. But when they didn’t agree with the Floridian climate, Pinak approached Team Sandtastic, a world-renowned sand sculpting company from Southwest Florida.

They’d been sculpting smaller figures for the holiday season, but Pinak wanted to do something bigger. “We like to do thing differently than other people,” she said with a laugh.

Team Sandtastic did the calculations, Pinak had sand shipped in from a quarry in Miami, and Sandi was born. She still stands tall at the same height (35 feet), but she’s added a few pounds of sand—200 tons, to be exact. “What’s another ton or two?” Pinak said.

Each year, the sculpting team averages a crew of seven, and they re-create Sandi in approximately two weeks, with all hands on deck.

But Sandi is no longer just a tree—she’s a character, practically a citizen of West Palm Beach. “She’s a confident, modern woman,” Pinak said. Sandi and her personality keep the people coming back for more. Pinak even ran into a family who’d come to see her multiple times—this season. “They said, ‘It never gets old.’”

And it’s not just Sandi they can see. West Palm Beach’s Holiday in Paradise celebration along the waterfront is worth seeing, too. Revelers can listen to live music, take a few puts at mini golf, check out additional light displays, and, special this year, even adopt pets.

Sandi and accompanying attractions can be enjoyed until midnight on Dec. 31.