📷 Lola Gravel, 3, finds one of the “Southbridge Rocks!” in town.
By Helen Boyle-Valentino, Citizen Chronicle Writer
UPDATE 09.06.18 – Southbridge Rocks! reports that each of the three rocks hidden in the scavenger hunt has been found, each by a different person.
Back in May the Southbridge Business Partnership held a rock painting event at their monthly meeting in conjunction with the Quinebaug Valley Council for the Arts and Humanities. The idea was to get people and businesses together to promote positive messages and enthusiasm for the town. Shortly after, those rocks began finding their way around town and the Southbridge Rocks! movement was born.
The activity has quickly become popular around town with both residents and businesses. The Southbridge Rocks! Facebook group, where people post photos of the rocks they find or hide, has over 1,000 members and is growing daily. Painting, finding and hiding rocks is bringing joy to people of all ages, but children are definitely some of the most enthusiastic participants. Amy Postale owns and operates the Little Wonders Family Daycare in town.
Postale says, “Southbridge Rocks has completely changed the way my children see our morning walks. What used to be just a normal part of our routine is now an adventure that they all look forward to each day. They especially enjoy finding the rocks, hiding them in their own creative spots, and discussing it with their families at the end of the day. Southbridge Rocks has really added a fun, team building aspect to our daily curriculum.”
Lola Gravel, age 3, echoed those sentiments. “We go on a rock hunt on our walks. I love it every time!”
Local businesses and organizations have been having fun with it too. Jacob Edward library, Village Photo, Sturbridge Coffee Roasters, Big Bunny, Southbridge Middle School and many others have painted and hidden rocks of their own. Some just have positive messages but some businesses have added prizes. These rocks usually have specific instructions on the back about claiming the prize. For example, Kathy Rodriguez of Rodriguez Family Photograhpy recently hid a rock which included an offered a free mini photo session to the finder. The Jacob Edwards Library offered the finder of their rock two free books from their book sale.
While Southbridge Rocks! is just getting started, it is part of a nationwide trend that has been going on for several years. Cities and towns all around the country are using rocks to foster positivity and connection within their communities. The Northeast Ohio Rocks! group is reportedly one of the largest in the country. Their Facebook group has over 200,000 members. Recently a rock from their group ended up in Southbridge.
Another rock made it’s way to Southbridge all the way from Vancouver, WA thanks to Maria Witt. Witt spends part of the year in Southbridge and part of the year on the west coast where she is a member of Vancouver “Rocks!” (Southwest Washington) group. On a recent visit to the Optical Heritage Museum in Southbridge, she left a painted rock from Vancouver with Dick Whitney, who is the Director of the Optical Heritage Museum (Zeiss United States), because she had heard that Southbridge now had their own painted rock movement.
Witt says, “I hope that Southbridge Rocks! continues to grow and that happiness and positivity grow with it”. She also said that even if the rock you painted does not show up online, to remember it brought someone joy and a smile. “That’s what it is really about.”
Lisa Brust and Peter Cournoyer, both members of the Southbridge Business Partnership, both say they are amazed at how fast this has caught on and love seeing the artistic talent that the town has. They also love seeing everyone out looking for them and painting them.
Brust recently announced a special rock event that is being sponsored by the Southbridge Business Partnership with a possible cash prize of up to $100. Hints will be given out and the prize will be awarded at Autumnfest on September 22nd.
In this scavenger hunt contest, a representative from The Southbridge Business Partnership will hide three special rocks in the community. Those rocks will be identified and shown on the Southbridge Rocks! Facebook page beginning today, Sept. 1. If the special scavenger hunt rocks are not found in a reasonable amount of time, the Southbridge Business Partnership may place “clues” of the rocks’ whereabouts on the Southbridge Rocks! facebook page.
If someone finds one rock, they will win $25.
If someone finds two rocks, they will win $50.
If someone finds all three rocks they will win $100.
All three rocks must be found by the same person to receive the grand prize.
“The finder must keep the special rock(s) to collect the prize(s) at the Autumnfest. A presentation is scheduled at 3:00, so bring the collected rocks to Autumnfest! If you would like to post on the SouthbridgeRocks! page that one of the special rocks has been found, you may do so, but not required,” reports Lisa Brust, who has worked extensively to set up and run the Southbridge Rocks! program.
Happy Rock Hunting from The Citizen Chronicle!
The finder must keep the special rock(s) to collect the prize(s) at the Autumnfest. A presentation is scheduled at 3:00 so bring the collected rocks to Autumnfest!
If you would like to post on the SouthbridgeRocks! page that one of the special rocks has been found, you may do so, but not required.
We now have 1003 members since May 1!