LAC Midwest District organized event, dedicated to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the flight of Darius and Girėnas
Loreta Timukienė LAC National Executive Committee vice president for information

Can anyone think of a better way to spend a warm summer‘s day, than swimming in warm lake waters and building sand castles? That is exactly what a large group of relaxing Lithuanians did on Sunday, August 18th, at Indiana Dunes State Park, near Lake Michigan. From far away, you could see US and Lithuanian flags, LAC poster, yellow, green and red balloons. You could hear Lithuanian music, and from the loudspeaker, a voice urging all to participate in a sand sculpture contest, dedicated to commemorate the historic flight of Darius and Girėnas across the Atlantic, 80 years ago. This LAC Midwest District organized event was advertised in newspapers and online. Many arrived already prepared with buckets and shovels, Lithuanian flags.

At first, only children were interested in making the sculptures. Eventually, they were joined by their parents, older friends. In all, 40 participants were divided into 19 teams, who built, in a few hours, a wonderful sand sculpture park. It was truly unbelieveable to witness the level of creativity displayed- a replica of the plane „Lituanica“, castle of Gediminas, Trakai castle, keglike bittern structure, a sun decorated with stones. The committee of judges, consisting of Irena Šaparnienė, Vidas Zimkus, designer Aistė Kairys and Asta Zimkienė, selected 3 winners in the adult groups, and 3 in the children‘s groups. Observers were also allowed to vote. First place in the adult group went to Sandra and Bronius Abrutis, who, along with Laima Kataržiene, constructed a replica of the „Lituanica“ plane. Second place was awarded to the bittern „Baublys“ builder Gražina Grybienė. Third place went to Audrone, Domas and Dovydas Narcevičius and Rūta Kutavičiūte for their construction of a sleek boat. The first place winner in the children‘s group was Klaidas Valinskis, who built Gediminas‘ castle. Second place for children went to Ignas Bespalovas for Trakų castle. Third place was awarded to Viktorija Matulevičius. Most audience votes went to the Abrutis group in the adult category, and to the structure built by Emilija Kėdainis, Paulius Malcius, Agne and Urte. The most creative were awarded certificates and presents from Lithuania, provided by Tautvilas Kairys. Some of the non-Lithuanian children on the beach were also interested in participating. Parents of little ones were thrilled to see their children occupied with this fun activity, and were asking about the organization that sponsored this. Many bystanders asked about the flags, what country they represented, why there were castles and an airplane. Also attending the event were members of the General Teodoras Daukantas navy rifle regiment.
All participants of the contest were provided snacks, and refreshed themselves with cold water. Many colored kites were flown, photo opportunities abounded. Toward the end of the afternoon, everyone gathered for a group photo. All agreed that it was a wonderful event. The hope is that this event will become a yearly tradition, and that many will volunteer to help organize it. We are thankful that we have in our history, heroes such as Darius and Girėnas, who enoble our Lithuanian ethicity.