Many winners with a sucessful Sand in the City

By most measures, the 12th Annual Sand in the City celebration last weekend in Olympia was a huge success.

Attendance at the three-day event was about 45,000, which is near average. But the crowds on Saturday approached 20,000, making it the largest Saturday turnout in event history.

Net proceeds from the annual fundraiser for the Hands On Children’s Museum’s free access program was expected to top $110,000, which would be the most money ever raised.

But what really made the 2012 edition of Sand in the City special was the new venue. The event this year encircled the new Hands on Children’s Museum, which is set to open in November. In previous years, the Port of Olympia Plaza hosted the event.

The 2012 celebration helped people make the link between the event and the museum, one of the reasons museum officials sold 100 new museum memberships this year.

This year’s Sand in the City display of sand sculptures, vendors, musical performances and education exhibits was as popular as ever. Having the 2012 event at the East Bay Park Plaza showcased the recently opened site as a place for family friendly entertainment.

The plaza features a meandering, man made stream consisting of reclaimed wastewater from the LOTT Clean Water Alliance next door. The highly treated wastewater is chlorinated and approved for human contact, which, in this case, meant a lot of wading and splashing by toddlers, children and adults. The stream was teeming with people, especially on Saturday when the midday temperature topped 80 degrees.

The new venue will be even more inviting next year when the museum is open to the public, and landscaping and outdoor museum exhibits are in place.