By MADDY VITALE
When someone destroyed sand art of a rainbow that the McElwees created on the North Street beach in Ocean City on Friday, the family and the community were saddened, but not disheartened.
The rainbow was a symbol of good things, hope and light amid a difficult time in history. It was, like the other McElwee artistic creations, something for people to enjoy as they strolled along the quiet beach.
So, it would seem almost predictable in a community known for coming together, that there would be people who took the crushed shells and made sand art in place of the ruined rainbow. Two hearts made by one woman, McElwee was not quite sure who, and a large broken heart were filled in with the pieces of the shells.
The words inscribed in the sand sculpture that replaced the rainbow seemed to say it all: “Love Heals Broken Heart.”
Kathy Pinto Nichols, an art teacher at Margaret Mace Public School in North Wildwood, made the sand sculpture of the large heart on Saturday. When she posted a photo of it on social media she said this:
“This was my response to the vandals who destroyed the rainbow sculpture on North Street beach,” Nichols, of Ocean City, said. “I used the smashed shells that people had contributed to fill the gap in the broken heart. Many were in remembrance of loved ones lost. Hopefully love truly will heal their brokenness.”
McElwee, a married mother of four from Ocean City, has been creating sand art with her family, and others who join in when walking along the beach, throughout this year.
She had no idea that her joy in making the sand art — a peace sign, then a heart and lastly a rainbow — would hold so much significance to people who have contacted her through social media platforms to tell her how much joy the pieces bring them.
“I have the fullest heart for this community and everyone that showed up to support us at the beach or on social media,” McElwee said in an interview with OCNJDaily.com on Sunday.
McElwee said she was so touched by Nichols and the others who created the sand art.
“It is truly amazing to see that something so beautiful came from something negative,” she said. “Kathy and her sand art are truly incredible and inspirational, along with everyone that put together the shell hearts by the fence. I’m so honored to be a part of such an amazing place.”
At sunrise on Sunday, McElwee and her 8-year-old son, Mason, stopped by North Street beach to see Nichol’s creation and the two hearts created by another woman.
“I am just so glad to see the art was not destroyed this morning,” she said.
She and her son were also out collecting shells for their next sand masterpiece.
“What’s coming next?” I think we are going to let the dust settle a bit. But we are planning on a rebuild for sure,” McElwee said.