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December 2, 2023

Rockin’ Around the Town

Kids and kids at heart are painting rocks and spreading joy.

Lots of trends have emerged during this unprecedented quarantine. Home gardens have been planted, the crafty among us have taken to mask-making, and we have all seen teddy bears peeking out of windows, brightening our day. If you look closely, you may have spotted another trend that has re-emerged recently. Rock painting has been around a few years, but is gaining in popularity again for many reasons. It checks all the boxes these days. It’s creative—check. Keeps the kids busy—check. Gets families out of the house—check. Oh, and it’s inexpensive and fun—check, check. Best of all it’s a great way to spread a little joy around the community. And… we all need a little more of that these days.

Cleveland Rocks! is a Facebook group originally started by Delta State Professor of Music Shelley Collins back in 2017. “I read an article about a similar group at the time, and wanted something unique to our town,” says Collins. The premise is to find, paint, and decorate rocks to hide around town for unsuspecting folks to discover. Rock painters and finders are encouraged to post pictures to their local Facebook community groups.

The painted rock movement has quietly spread through communities nationwide over the past couple of years. Recently, the trend seems to have had a new surge of interest during the corona-virus crisis. “Cleveland Rocks! was started to celebrate Cleveland, make art, and get outside,” said Collins. “When we first started Cleveland Rocks, the response was quite high, and the Facebook page has almost 1000 members. This tends to be a seasonal activity that starts up again each summer.” 

Seasonal weather coupled with the current restrictions have made activities such as rock-painting even more appealing right now.

Collins and her 9-year-old son Eddie, have enjoyed having a creative activity during this time of sheltering at home. She said, “Kids are looking for activities to do now that school is about to be finished for the year. This is actually two activities in one: creating art and then being active outdoors.” 

It’s a great family activity and everyone is welcome to join in. According to Collins, the guidelines are simple: Decorate smooth, flat rocks with acrylic paint or paint pens. Be sure to include #ClevelandRocks! on your creation.

Pro tips: 

• To help the paint last, Collins suggests spraying rocks with a sealer such as Krylon Acrylic Spray or a similar product. 

• Hide the rocks in public places only. 

• Don’t leave rocks in the grass where lawnmowers could throw them, nor in national parks or wildlife reserves. 

• For more fun, whether hiding or finding rocks, snap a picture and post it on the Cleveland Rocks in Mississippi Facebook page with #ClevelandRocks.

Cleveland resident Laurel Waldbieser recently posted pictures of the masterpieces she and her daughters Tori and Katie painted. “Lots of people used to do it, but it seems to have died down. We’re trying to get it going again,” said Waldbieser. “It’s been fun and kept us busy with everyone home during quarantine.” 

Waldbieser’s sister Shelley Tibbs and her daughter Rachel have joined in as well, painting and hiding rocks in Merigold, where Shelley and Laurel grew up. 

 The rocks can be silly, inspirational or have a touch of local flavor. In fact, Tibbs gave a nod to her hometown, painting one rock found in Merigold with the classic McCartys river.

If you’re looking for something inexpensive, creative and active to do over the next few weeks Collins encourages everyone to participate. “It’s a great outlet during the corona crisis and social distancing. It’s creative, safe, a positive for the community and a fun reason to get out, while still social distancing, to hide around town.”