Skip to main content

Dig Imperial Beach

From Boys helping their Dad's to Local Legends, The IB Posse Shares their Story!

Aug 12, 2015 11:19PM ● By Paul Spear

From Boys helping their Dad's in the IB Sandcastle Event in the 1980’s to their growth to 

 Local Legends, The IB Posse Founder, Leonard Gonzales, Shares the Story of How it all Started and How they got to where they are Today!

Last year when I started up around the startup of the Sun and Sea Festival one of the first articles I was interested and doing was finding out about the history of the IB Posse. They had just won the Sandcastle Competition again and everyone knew who they were. I got in touch with Leonard Gonzales and he was nice enough to sharing the History of the IB Posse with me and share photographs from their early years.

 Since that time they haven’t slowed down and been busy in the community doing sandcastles for all sorts of events. They did sandcastles or the IB Little League and IB Girls Softball. They built sandcastles at Petco to honor Padres’ Hall of Famers. For community events they have done sandcastles for the Easter Egg Hunt, Halloween, BBQ & Blues and Dempsey Holder Ocean Festival, The Pow Wow and Camp Surf. They competed at 8th St Pier and the 2015 SandCastle Event, winning again. Probably some I’ve missed and they have a business building sandcastles. Now, soon they will be doing a sandcastle for the IB Kiwanis Kids Fishing Derby.

So we are going to share Leonard’s story of the “History of the IB Posse” in a timeline and photos of their Sandcastles through the years as well as some of their fantastic artistry this last year.


History of the IB Posse

The IB Posse Timeline by Leonard Gonzales

The timeline of our team’s existence has spanned over 30 years and endured several challenges along the way. It started in in 1984 when my Dad took us down to the beach to see the amazing sandcastles being created for in 4th Annual US Open Sand Castle Competition (USOSC). It was an event that was born from the Imperial Beach Sun and Sea Festival from the 1960’s and 70’s.  The USOSC in just a few years was drawing artists from around the 

 globe to IB to compete for sizable prize money and recognition in a growing sport/art form.

Shortly after hitting the beach Dad ran into an old friend from the neighborhood, Mike Brindle. Mike was competing but a few of his team members were missing in action. After a few minutes of catching up Dad decided to step in and help complete a relief sculpture of the 1984 Olympic mascot. It wasn’t overly impressive but it was enough to get the creative juices flowing and kicked started a family tradition that still lasts today.

 The following year the whole family joined in to complete Mike’s team “The Titans”. Kids and adults alike were lugging water from the ocean, digging and chipping in to sculpt when the opportunity arose. I was 10 years old at the time and kids under 12 were allowed to help with no impact to the 10-man roster limit. Over the next couple years more and more friends and family came out to support us. In those days alcohol was allowed on the beach so the competition was much more like a party, at least for us. The family fun attitude and some real talent help us win numerous amateur titles which led to us trying our hand in the Masters category. The Masters were the teams that competed in 

 competitions year around and for some sand sculpting was their only profession.

We found that cracking into the big-time wasn’t easy and without the awards long sandy days in the sun were not so enjoyable. This led to arguments over artistic concepts and the value of each member. It also didn’t help when alcohol was banned from the beach. Many of our reasons for fun were dwindling. In 1994 I decided I wanted to regain some of the personal enjoyment, so I told my dad and Mike I was going to split off and go back to the amateur ranks. The plan was to start a new team where our focus could be on having fun again and doing work that we related to. I named the team the “IB Posse” because at the time “posse” was being used in the Hip-Hop genre to describe a gang or entourage…and so that if we were ever able to gain any recognition it would be as the local team, from Imperial Beach. 


The rest is history.

1984- Ran into Mike Brindle competing in USOSC #4, needing help. Dad (Leonard Sr.) jumped in.

1985- The whole family showed up to help in USOSC #5.

1985 to 1994- Competed as "The Titans". Multiple 1st place awards in amateur categories, a few attempts at the Masters but no prizes.

1994- IB Posse broke off led by Leonard Jr. Trying to regain the fun of the event with an optimistic eye on future Masters conquests.

199?- First Masters prize, 2nd Place for "Wizard of Oz".

200?- First Masters 1st Place, "Sand Wars" (Star Wars).

2010- 1st Place ("Got Oil?") earned an invite to New Zealand.

2012- 1st Place New Zealand Sand Castle Competition in Christchurch.

2012- People's Choice Award in the IB Challenge at the first US Sand Sculpting Challenge on the B St. Pier, "Awaiting Fate" (Fall of the Aztec Empire).

2013- People's Choice Award in the IB Challenge at the US Sand Sculpting Challenge on the B St. Pier, "Theodore Geisel - Dr. Suess".

Article and old photos provided by Leonard Gonzales

Recent Photos: IB Sha-Ron, IB Photo Happy, Bryan Brillhart, Matt & Monique McCoy

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Dig Imperial Beach's free newsletter to catch every headline