Sand Ho!

Magic House goes tropical

Show of hands -- any Coasters 'round these parts who still find it hard to fathom summer without a family trip to the beach, replete with ocean breezes and sand in your trunks? Meet your salvation: Sandcastle Beach at the Magic House. From June 11-August 3, a faux beachfront lays claim to the outside grounds of the beloved kids' museum/funhouse (516 South Kirkwood Road, 314-822-8900, www.magichouse.org). Two hundred tons of sand will be properly outfitted with real lifeguard stands, beach umbrellas, buried seashells, chairs, buckets, toys and water misters. The magnum opus of this sand-tastic undertaking will be a 75-ton, fifteen-foot-high sand castle that'll take a world-champion sand sculptor (being brought in from California, from the same company that handles the annual sand creations at Fair St. Louis) three weeks to create.

Visitors can behold the castle construction firsthand as the sand-artist-in-residence offers expert sculpting advice. (He'll actually be using a paste mixture to keep his castle standing through whatever summer torrents may come our way.) Beach access will be included in the regular Magic House admission, which ranges from free to $6. Beach hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. -- Rose Martelli

Meet fellow head cases at the Pez-collectors' convention.
Gabriel Miller
Meet fellow head cases at the Pez-collectors' convention.

Highway to Hill
Soap Box Derby fun

SUN 6/8

The cars race 1,000 feet, powered by the force that made Isaac Newton famous. So where would St. Louis stage its annual Soap Box Derby?

On the Hill, of course.

Some 30 drivers ages eight through seventeen will compete in the 2003 event, sponsored by the St. Louis Jaycees, with winners bound for the nationals in Akron, Ohio.

They'll begin at approximately 9 a.m., barreling down Macklind Avenue from Botanical Avenue, down five blocks to Daggett Avenue.

Vehicles weigh 100 pounds each, and the weight of driver and car combined must not exceed 250 pounds. The race goes not to the heaviest but to those who've mastered weighty issues. "Lighter kids can place their weight in certain ways that a heavier kid might be limited in doing," says Joe Faber of the Jaycees.

Sponsor a vehicle and watch your signage cross the finish line at about 27 mph. Spectators enjoy it all for free. Call 314-503-4170. -- Thomas R. Raber

There Are No Small Cars
Only small drivers

Kids are like sponges; they soak up everything around them, even the things you don't want them to notice. This means Ted Jr. has already learned to steer a car with his knee while arguing with the wife on a cell phone as he flips the bird to the clown in the Miata. Why not give that kid some positive driving influences? Shrewsbury City Center (5200 Shrewsbury Avenue) has a Preschool Safety Town to teach li'l Ted the rules of the road for both drivers and pedestrians. Kids steer a pedal car through Safety Town, learning about street signs, traffic lights and the right of way. Classes run 9:30-11:30 a.m. through June 13. Call 314-647-1003 for prices and to make a reservation. -- Paul Friswold

Definitely Cherry-Flavor Pez

Some of us collect baseball cards. For others, it's parking tickets. Guess what John "CoolPezman" Devlin's into? His annual National Pez Collectors Convention (Wednesday-Saturday, June 4-7, Marriott West Hotel, 660 Maryville Center Drive, 314-416-0333, www.pezconvention.com) draws obsessives from all over to buy, sell, trade and ogle those little plastic candy dispensers with funny heads. The big event for the casual fan is the 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday show ($5), with door prizes and games. -- Byron Kerman

 
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