Residents search city for positive rocks

By: Kristyne E. Demske, | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published July 18, 2017

ST. CLAIR SHORES — A new craze is rocking the city.

Taking over the library, parks, neighborhoods and businesses, they’re giving children and those young at heart an outlet for their creativity and spreading a positive message.

They’re rocks.

 Alina Mazzenga, of St. Clair Shores, holds a rock she found at Mastro’s Ice Cream.

Alina Mazzenga, of St. Clair Shores, holds a rock she found at Mastro’s Ice Cream.

Photo provided by Mihaela Mazzenga

“About a month ago, I read an article about this rock craze in a different community,” said City Councilwoman Candice Rusie. “This is all around America in different communities — the Kindness Rocks Project.”

Rusie said that the point of the project is to paint rocks with a cute image or a positive message to put a smile on someone’s face. Painters can then clear-coat their rocks with a sealer or varnish to protect their designs from the elements and hide them in a public place.

Rusie created a Facebook page, St. Clair Shores Rocks, about four weeks ago for creators to post photos of their creations — and sometimes even clues to where they are hidden — and for finders to post photos of the rocks they have discovered.

Mihaela Mazzenga said she discovered the St. Clair Shores Rocks Facebook page right away, and with her two young children’s love of craft projects and being active in the community, it seemed a natural fit.

“I do have to say that the Elsa rock was the first one that got us out there,” she said in an email message. “We didn’t find it, but finding Mona Lisa was just as good. My husband even caught the rock-hunting bug and takes the kids out all the time.”

Since that time, Mazzenga said, her 4- and 5-year-old children have found more than 60 rocks and painted 10 of their own. 

“It brings everyone out locally to enjoy the outdoors, gain some knowledge at the library, and stimulate the local economy through rock sightings at businesses and restaurants. This is also a very positive example how technology can actually help build community versus divide it.”

It’s not just small children getting in on the action, either. Kate Carless and her mom, Liz, recently spent more than 10 hours painting 101 rocks, and then another six or so hiding them. 

“I had just learned about the painted rocks and I thought it was a really cool community project to just get people outside and active,” said Kate Carless, of St. Clair Shores. 

The dozens of rocks painted all had a common theme, as well — “101 Dalmatians.”

“I’m a huge Disney fan,” she said. “I actually have Disney pins that I used as inspiration. I made one dalmatian and then we went from there.”

The dalmatians are each individually numbered on their collars — which are red or blue, just like in the Disney animated film. The 101st rock, Carless said, has a collar that is half blue and half red, and 25 of the rocks have a “hidden Mickey” in their spots.

“It’s more fun when they rehide them because I like to see how far they travel, even beyond St. Clair Shores. One could end up out of state, and I think that would be amazing,” she said. 

Rusie said she is happy to see how popular the hunt has become this summer.

“We have kids; they’ll bring sand pails because they’re going to hunt for rocks,” she said. “The great thing about this activity is the rules are really casual. You can keep the rock or you can rehide it somewhere else in the community.”

She encourages the budding artists to paint “St. Clair Shores Rocks” on the back of the rock so others will know to look for the Facebook page. 

“You get the cute picture of the kid holding the rock up and then they might hide the rock,” she said. “It’s fun to see the rock’s journey.

“We have some rocks that have been in circulation for three to four weeks now that have popped up all over the city because people keep finding them and taking them someplace else,” she said. 

Mazzenga said she hopes to see the rock project spread.

“It’s fun being able to share found rocks from other city and neighborhood children and neighbors. We plan on rehiding some of our rocks in faraway places to promote the project across the state,” she said. 

Rusie said the rocks are giving children another reason to hunt through the shelves at the St. Clair Shores Public Library and discover other parks around town.

“I’ve heard people call it this year’s Pokémon (Go), but better,” she said. “Besides the picture taking, it’s screen-free and kids can utilize their creativity. Everyone is appreciated the same way by the finder.”

She said groups have sprung up in Grosse Pointe, Harrison Township, Sterling Heights, Utica and across southeast Michigan as well, but she wanted to make sure St. Clair Shores kids had their own place to participate. 

“We have a ton of beautiful parks; we have a ton of engaged families. It has exploded in the last couple of weeks. I am happy to see that,” she said.

For more information, to see rocks or get a clue of where to find one, visit the St. Clair Shores Rocks Facebook page.