Hurricane Harvey destroyed the popular Big Blue Crab, which was located at the south end of the Rockport Ski Basin, near the entrance to Rockport Beach. It was the backdrop for thousands of photos taken by tourists, as well as local residents.
Through the efforts of Keep Aransas County Beautiful (KACB), and generous help from local individuals and businesses, the Big Blue Crab will rise again.
KACB is ready to accept proposals from qualified artists to rebuild the local icon. A selection committee has drafted a Request for Proposal and Qualifications with an associated Addendum.
Proposals must be received by Sept. 1. The two documents can be found at www.kacbtx.org.
The selection group’s members include a couple of KACB board members, as well as passionate Big Blue Crab advocates, including Debbie Parker, Neli Spurell, and Amanda Wilson, who have helped raise funds for months via silent auctions at the Winery by the Bay. Kam Wagert, Diana Harrington, and David Herring, the three members of the 2004 Big Blue Crab Building Committee, are part of the group, as well.
Memorial Brick fundraiser
In two weeks a Memorial Brick fundraising campaign will begin.
The engraved bricks, which will be sold in two sizes, will be placed as a pathway to and around the Big Blue Crab.
A 4” x 8” memorial brick will cost $65.
An 8” x 8” memorial brick will cost $125.
The nonprofit KACB has a special Big Blue Crab account with almost $34,000, as well as a generous pledge of $25,000 from the family of James Michael Shaw. The total amount to be raised will be determined after the artist is selected.
The new Big Blue Crab is expected to be located in the same place it was prior to the storm. Aransas County Navigation District commissioners have talked about the Big Blue Crab, but they have not officially taken action regarding where it will be located.
The crab was once a landmark for the community, and at one time sat atop the former Del Mar Grill run by Dorothy and Sal Silverman around 1957. The grill’s specialty was Dorothy’s famous crab cakes, which is why they featured the large crab on top of the building.
The crab is believed to have been anywhere from 18 to 20 feet wide and 25 feet deep from fin to claw. A company in Houston, which built parade floats, had constructed it from rebar, chicken wire, fiberglass and paper maché.
The crab survived two major hurricanes, Carla and Beulah. In 1965, the grill closed. The following year, then-Chamber president John Ross purchased the crab for $200. It was to be used as a background for photographs and was to be placed on a trailer so it could be transported for use in parades and displays to promote the Rockport area.
In October 1966, the crab was moved from its perch atop the building to a new home in Navigation Park, now known as Veterans Memorial Park. The crab sat in its new home, and in 1969 a retired portrait painter, Ed Warner of Chesterton, IN, volunteered to paint the crab.
Throughout the 1970s tourists and locals were able to enjoy the crab and use it as a background for pictures. The crab also survived its third hurricane, Celia, in 1970.
Eventually, time took its toll and the crab began to suffer damage. It developed holes underneath and consequently a leg fell off. The crab was later buried on property between Rockport and Aransas Pass.
A Bring Back the Big Blue Crab Committee was responsible for raising the funds for the Big Blue Crab that Harvey destroyed.
Local artist David Allgood constructed the fiberglass crab, which resembled the one originally displayed on the roof of the old Del Mar Grill. He volunteered to work his magic for the cost of materials.
The crab was actually one foot bigger than the original one.
ACND commissioners officially accepted the gift of the Big Blue Crab in 2012. It had just been painted when Harvey made landfall.