STATEN ISLAND — A sand castle competition is finishing off Staten Island's summer in style.
Professional sand sculptor Matt Long is running a contest to build the best creation on Midland Beach on August 25 — but instead of the traditional fairytale castle, the beach artist is asking for sand lighthouses.
The contest, sponsored by the Children's Cord Blood Bank Foundation, will be part of the National Lighthouse Museum's Lighthouse Hunt and Beach Party which will raise money to house its archive in St. George.
"This event is for kids and families and anyone who wants to take part in the contest," said Long.
"It should be fun," said Linda Dianto, executive director of the National Lighthouse Museum. "It's something totally different than you've seen before."
Before the contest, attendees can take part in a lighthouse hunt where participants will drive, bike or motorcycle across the island to spots where lighthouses are visible.
"They'll be given instructions to go out to seven locations on Staten Island where they can see lighthouses on or off the land, and they have to have pictures," said Dianto.
The sand lighthouse contest will start at 1 p.m., and Long will give a brief lesson for newbie sculptors.
"The day of that contest I will give a brief instruction to all the attendees, give them a quick understanding of how sand works, then turn them loose," Long said.
"I truly believe that everybody has enough skill to make something out of the sand."
Long, 57, has been playing on the beach for nearly 30 years and gives lessons to groups and companies by request.
He also plans on hosting night classes for adults who want to learn the craft.
Throughout his career, he has been commissioned to build castles for the Parks Department, NBC and Nickelodeon. He's designed and sold his own sculpting tools, and appears on the Travel Channel's reality show "Sand Masters."
"People actually want my autograph," Long said. "That's really weird."
Tickets for the contest and lighthouse hunt are $25 for adults, $12 for children and can be purchased online at the National Lighthouse Museum's website. For the sand building contest only, tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children.
The first 25 teams to register will receive a free set of Matt Long's sand tools.