SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – An elaborate sand castle building competition to benefit arts in local schools has been postponed indefinitely amid the federal government shutdown.

The contest between teams from 24 public elementary schools Saturday would have marked the 30th annual event. The competition was put on hold Tuesday because the host site, San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which has seen employees furloughed amid the standoff in Washington.

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“We put a lot of work into this,” said Marwa Bouabibsa from John Yehall Chin Elementary School. “Now it’s ruined.”

The event is organized by the educational nonprofit Leap, which uses funds raised to provide art instruction to students roughly 8,000 students in San Francisco, Alameda and San Mateo counties. Teams of architects, designers, contractors, corporations and engineers partner with students to create thematic sand castle displays during a 4-hour construction window.

“LEAP is a non-profit and we’re focused on filling a gap in our education system by bringing professional teaching artists into the classroom, and we rely on the sandcastle contest to bring in 50 percent of our annual budget,” said LEAP Executive Director Julie McDonald. “We find (the cancellation) to be mean, and petty, and disappointing.”

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Students at John Yehall Chin Elementary said they were “depressed” and “angry” about the decision, but teachers have tried to find a silver lining.

“I spent the day on the phone talking to teachers,” McDonald said Wednesday. “A lot of them are using it as a teaching opportunity for their children (on) how to write to their congress people.”

Last year’s event raised more than a quarter of a million dollars for Leap. So far the organization said it still hopes to hold this event later this year, and has no plans to scale back their art outreach to students.


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