The craze of painted rock hunting has rolled into O’Fallon and Shiloh.
The activity has multiple aspects.
First, there’s the art. People take ordinary rocks and turn them into precious stones by painting them. What they will become all depends on the painter. Inanimate igneous could alive as an iguana. Or, who knows? You might turn over a pebble to find a portrait of a girl with freckles. The possibilities are endless, which is what makes finding them fun.
That’s where the hunt comes in. After the painting is done, the rocks are left here, there — anywhere, really — for others to find. Once discovered, the rock is captured on camera, then re-hidden so the hunt can begin again.
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The fad has been flamed by social media, and several Facebook groups — where people can post pictures of their pickings — have been formed around the game.
Amanda Dixon of Shiloh, who created the Ofallon/Shiloh Rocks group and serves as its administrator, said she was surprised how the group gained so such momentum, so fast.
“In less than a month (from) when we started, we had over 400 members, and it keeps getting more members every day,” Dixon said.
“We are just trying to get the community involved and get families out together having fun, and just kind of uplifting other families and having a good time,” Dixon said.
Dixon said she created the group after “going out of town and seeing how fun the kindness rocks project is.”
And now they bring it with them as travel.
“Every time we go to a gas station or stay at a different hotel or go somewhere, we try to hide some,” she said.
Dixon and her daughters, Londyn, 11, and Lylah, 5, hid several rocks this summer has they traveled to Michigan, Iowa and Indiana as the girls competed in the Junior Olympics Power Tumbling.
Londyn hid one that read, “Be amazing.”
“One of the athletes competing posted a picture in her gymnast leotard that said, ‘We’re going to be amazing today, thank you,’ ” Dixon said.
Tracking how far they get is all part of the fun, too.
“People have already re-posted several who have found ours, and they’re from Ontario, Canada; Florida; and the Chicago area. So they are going to take them back to where they live and hide them. So we will see where they go from there,” Dixon said.
Dixon’s girls’ favorite part about the activity is just that — being active.
“The girls keep a container with already painted ones in the car, so even when we go to Walmart or Target or the library, they can hide some,” Dixon said.
Joya Carthy of O’Fallon said her daughter Ella, 3, found her first rock at the O’Fallon Community Park this summer and was “thrilled.”
“It’s still really fresh to me, and it’s such a unique idea for a group,” said Carthy, who is also a member of the Ofallon/Shiloh Rocks group now.
Jacqueline Somer of O’Fallon said her two youngsters Blake, 5, and Brooks, 3, found some decorated rocks while they were vacationing in Colorado in July, prompting their involvement in the Facebook group when they returned home.
“My boys are active already, but this lets them be creative during our down time, and then they are even more excited to get outside to hide and find the rocks,” Somer said. “The boys love the adventure behind it all.”
Mary Jeanne Hutchison, O’Fallon Parks and Recreation director, said she is still learning about the group, but has seen more decorated rocks sprout up in various places around the park system in town.
“Anything to get people out enjoying are parks and community, getting some exercise and stress release, it always wonderful,” Hutchison said.
Local businesses are getting in on the fun, too. Joe’s Market Basket in O’Fallon sells gallon buckets of rocks for $2.70. The Auffenberg Dealer Group in O’Fallon and Michaels craft supply store in Shiloh have also both held free, rock-painting events.