TREASURE ISLAND — Business leaders hope the patriotically themed sand sculptures they plan to build on the city's beaches next year will attract international attention during the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
The event may even bring back the Guinness World Record the city won in 1986 for the world's tallest sand sculpture.
That winning sculpture depicted the Lost City of Atlantis and rose more than 50 feet above the beach.
The current record for the tallest sand sculpture — nearly 74 feet tall — was set last year in China and featured a large hummingbird as well as lions, eagles, monkeys and other animals.
The sand sculptures planned to tower over Treasure Island's beach in August 2012 will celebrate American democracy, according to Treasure Island Chamber of Commerce President W.D. Higginbotham Jr.
"This isn't about partisan politics. But the eyes of the entire planet will be on the Republican convention and Tampa Bay. This presents a tremendous opportunity to educate an international audience about Treasure Island's beautiful beaches," he said.
Just who will build the sculptures and whether there will be other activities to coincide with the event has not yet been decided, Higginbotham said.
One goal is to compete for a new Guinness record, but whether it will be for the tallest sand sculpture or in some other category has also not been decided.
"We may do something bigger than in 1986 or something that more grand," Higginbotham said.
The City Commission is on board with the project, but the chamber still needs to get state permission and permits.
The 1986 event was in April, just before turtle season. This event will be in August, right in the middle of the period when sea turtles lay their eggs on the gulf beaches.
"The turtles will need to be taken into consideration," Higginbotham said.