Mansfield residents are rocking and rolling these days, thanks to a grass-roots movement to encourage creativity in the most unexpected of places. The Mansfield Rocks Facebook page now boasts more than 3000 members, growing each time someone picks up a brightly colored rock around Mansfield.
Belinda Daughtry, creator of the program, said Mansfield Rocks began for her unexpectedly while on vacation in Washington. Her daughter found a painted rock with instructions to post a picture and hide somewhere else. They had so much fun with the anonymous hide-and-seek game that she decided to start a similar program in Mansfield as soon as they got home.
After that, you could say the project just took off like a rolling stone.
“The best part is definitely seeing all of the joy that people of all ages are getting from this,” Belinda said. “This is something for people to freely enjoy any time they can. All they have to do is join the Facebook group to see hiding clues and rules. Anyone can find a rock that’s been hidden. Most people who find the rocks want to join in the fun by painting and hiding their own rocks.”
This spring break will give Mansfield Rock fans two opportunities to be a part of the new creative movement and put their artistic talents in stone. Both the Mansfield Public Library and Mansfield Parks & Recreation will offer rock painting classes, on March 16 and March 17, respectively.
Recently, members have created a second Facebook group called Seniors Rock Mansfield Texas, where artists can paint rocks for senior citizens and hide them in assisted living facilities for them to find.
While Mansfield Rocks is an informal group with no official by-laws or governing body, they do advise general guidelines to keep the program safe for both the participants and the community. Organizers ask that all rocks to be painted are taken from your own garden or purchased, not removed from businesses or parks.
Rocky’s Stone and More on FM 1187 is familiar with the group and offers great rates on bulk bags of the smooth river stones that are best suited for painting. Designs can be as simple or as complicated as the creator would like.
“People use stencils, temporary tattoos, stickers or anything to decorate a rock,” Belinda said. “You don’t have to be an artist to paint a rock, even though we have some amazing artists in the group. Just be sure to leave a note on the back to direct people to the Facebook page so they know how the game works.”
Park officials said they have loved the program, which encourages residents to get out and involved in their community in a very low-tech way.
“Our only issues have been when people are too wrapped up in the excitement of hiding a rock that they forget to pay attention to posted rules or common sense,” said Mansfield Parks and Recreation Director Matt Young. “As long as rocks aren’t hidden in places where the hider (and the seeker) have to walk through flowers, both organized beds and freshly sprouting wildflowers, and not in places that are animal habitats, like nests, bird houses, and tree holes, we’re all on board. We love to see the community filling our parks and having fun outside.”
Lucky finders can choose to hide the treasure somewhere else, or keep it for themselves. Members love when photos are posted of discoveries, so they know their miniature works of art were found and are being loved.
“We do have a large percentage of the rocks that are taken and nothing is ever posted,” said Belinda. “Painters and hiders have to understand that this is just a part of the game. You’re giving to the community a beautiful thing and shouldn’t always expect recognition. You’re just making someone’s day brighter. This is also a wonderful lesson for children as well, to give unconditionally.”
Interested in being a ‘rock star’? Here’s the details of the classes scheduled during spring break.
Mansfield Public Library is hosting volunteers from Mansfield Rocks to teach teens & adults how to paint rocks. Free to attend, all supplies included.
Naturalists from Elmer W. Oliver Nature Park have a class open to all ages, just $2/participant includes all supplies and the lesson, after which you can hide the rocks immediately in the park or take them home to hide around town.