Roll over Elvis, the Beatles and the Boss. The newest “rock” craze hitting Northeast Ohio has nothing to do with rock and roll and a whole lot to do with real rocks.
It all started last July when Nancy Pierson, of Alliance, was inspired to begin a Facebook page called “Northeast Ohio Rocks” after hearing about the popularity of 2 similar online groups that took off in Washington a few months earlier. The Northeast Ohio Rocks Facebook Group now has more than 71,000 members who post photos of their painted rocks, as well as images of members hiding, finding and offering clues about their painted rocks – kind of like a giant scavenger hunt.
According to Pierson, it all started with a mother in Port Angeles, Wash., who went for a walk with her kids. They found some rocks, took them home and painted them. On their next walk, they put them back out in the neighborhood but then noticed they went missing.
An idea was born.
“I have heard many people say something as small as finding a pretty painted rock made them smile, made their day,” said Pierson. “This group is a mix of ‘pay it forward’ and ‘random acts of kindness.’ It’s something people of all ages and ability can do. You don’t need to be an artist. Parents report their kids actually talk to them while they sit around the kitchen table painting rocks. It’s all just for fun.”
Designs range from basic smiley faces and rainbows to detailed cartoon favorites, animals, sports, and inspirational messages. The back includes a label that says “Find us on Facebook, Northeast Ohio Rocks! Post your picture and re-hide me.” A recommended coating of decoupage makes the rock feel extra smooth, shiny and special.
On Monday, Pierson and friend Brenda Kale made their second “rock drop” to Akron Children’s Hospital. This time, they brought 1,073 rocks painted by members of the group for patients at the hospital and guests of the Ronald McDonald House of Akron. Many of the rocks were spring and Easter themed featuring bunnies, butterflies, flowers or painted to resemble decorated colored eggs.
When given a choice of several rocks, 20-year-old Logan Reed immediately selected a large flat rock that says “Yoda the Best,” and featuring the green face of Star Wars’ wise Jedi Master. Sheyanne Moore, 5, based her selection on color; she is partial to purple. And Tanner Ross, 12, took a few rocks, already thinking about paying it forward and giving them to friends.
The hundreds of remaining tiny masterpieces will be distributed to patients in the weeks ahead.
Some of the kids may wish to keep their rock as a memento of their hospitalization and that’s fine. But why not spread the love and hide those rocks on the playground, at the school bus stop or someplace else and just imagine a stranger’s smile?