Originally published October 2017
Many Clintonians are taking strolls through the Brick Streets, visiting Lions Club Park, walking the trails behind the Quisenberry Library and visiting the Clinton Community Nature Center for the purpose of stumbling on a rock. But they aren’t looking for an injury, nor do they want to stumble on just any rock—they are in search of a hand-painted, one-of-a kind Clinton Rock!
Clinton Rocks is a branch of a nationwide game of hide and seek—with rocks. The idea is simple: paint a rock and hide it. If you find one of these special rocks, you either keep it or re-hide it for someone else to discover. Since little supplies is required and it’s easy to participate, the rock hunting hobby has inspired thousands to get out and explore their cities. From the post office to the Visitor Center, these creative treasures are being found all around town.
Beth Shores of Paxton Peak says she loves watching families and students hunting for rocks in Olde Towne: “It happens literally all day, every day, and there is nothing but smiles on everyone’s faces the entire time.”
“It’s fun to be with my family and paint rocks,” says seven-year-old Brylee-Klaire Jolly. “And it’s fun to hide them in my town and hunt rocks everywhere!”
“My family enjoys painting and hiding rocks. It gets us out of the house and off our electronics. It’s a fun activity the whole family can enjoy,” says Heather Eagar.
Many of the rocks hidden around town are inscribed with “Clinton Rocks,” referring to the Facebook page where participants can connect with the local rock-hunting community. With over 1,000 members, the Clinton “Rocks!” Facebook page has become a place where people share pictures of the rocks they’ve painted or found, as well as hints to where they are hidden. The purpose of Clinton “Rocks!” is to “spread joy and brighten someone’s day,” the Facebook page says. “This is a community-building group meant to inspire creativity in all ages and energize people to explore the beautiful area in which we live.”
“I’m so proud of the positive influence that these tiny painted treasures have brought to our city,” says Clinton “Rocks!” member Kari Elizabeth. “Seeing children’s smiles of joy, the thrill of taking a walk and glancing down to find a brightly-colored rock, seeing creativity blossom—it’s so uplifting!”
Brandee Harper is an administrator of the Clinton “Rocks!” Facebook page. She says the group has grown a lot since she joined a little over a year ago. “I get at least 10 requests a day to join,” she says. She adds that hiding and finding rocks was something her family did in Texas, and her three boys love the hunt.
“Anytime we are out, they are hoping to find a rock,” she says.
The game has brought out the artistic side of many residents. Some rocks are decorated with butterfly or ladybug designs, while others take the likeness of bicycles, frogs, or pumpkins. There are even Clinton-themed rocks boasting Arrow pride.
“It’s great because anyone can do it,” says Harper. “There’s no wrong way.”
Many Clintonians have held their own rock painting parties. On Sept. 9, the Clinton Community Nature Center hosted a “Rock Painting Party” with over 100 people in attendance. For 50 cents each, kids and adults spent hours painting rocks and sharing in their new hobby.
“We provided the rocks and the paint supplies,” says Carrie Chennault, who does marketing for the Nature Center. “People love to hide them at the Nature Center, and it’s great seeing kids and adults come out and look for them.”
Guest artist Bob Buseck also came to talk about painting rocks and demo some ideas. He says he’s painted over 30 rocks that are scattered throughout Clinton, many of which people choose to keep for themselves because of how ornate they are. Not only does he paint intricate designs on the rocks, he also carves them into unique shapes.
Buseck says, “It’s a fun way to get people outside and exploring Clinton, while also giving back to the arts.”
He says he discovered the trend while living in Natchez and continued the hobby when he moved to Clinton. A military vet, Buseck uses the detailed painting as a way to help cope with his PTSD. Some of his favorite designs include Winnie the Poo, The Walking Dead, and a collection of Clinton-themed rocks that he modeled after a Hometown Clinton magazine cover.
“Painting rocks helps me with my depression, and I enjoy hiding them for others to find,” says Savannah Shepherd. “It is also a great way for adults and kids of all ages to express themselves, and it gets kids outside instead of sitting indoors. It is a great way to meet people and make new friends.”
“I’m a grandmother, but since I started painting rocks, I feel like a kid again,” says Susan Robinson. “It’s an activity I can share with my grandchildren, as well as with the children of Clinton. To see their excited, sweet faces on the Clinton “Rocks!” Facebook page makes my heart happy.”