HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Remember the pet rock? The fad in the mid 70's only lasted for about six months. There's a new craze now. And some hope this one will be rock solid.
If you visit Big Spring Park in downtown Huntsville, you may see people leaving rocks they've painted. While the idea may sound silly, it touches people’s lives. “It helped me,” Susanna Iacono told us. “It touched me.”
She remembers finding her first one. “My husband and I were on a trip to Louisiana and I was walking in a parking lot at Walmart,” she recalled. Something caught her eye. “I went to pick it up and it was a rock,” she said. Someone had painted a message on the stone. “The rock said, you’ve got this,” she said. That happened shortly after she was diagnosed with lupus.
“So I got to thinking, how much it meant to me,” she remembered. “It really touched me.” So much in fact, she brought the rock home to Huntsville and did some research. “I didn’t find any other rocks or a group here at the time,” she said. That was in January. “So I started Rocket City Rocks,” she added.
The Facebook group now has more than 1,300 members. Susanna remembers one girl posting, “Spreading joy, giving smiles one rock at a time.”
Some of the group members got together at Kelly Smith Kraff’s home recently. They painted and swapped stories. “They’ll post it on the page and say, oh found this today, made me smile, re-hiding it,” Katie Bramlett said.
Kelly spotted her first painted rock while walking with her husband at Haysland Nature Preserve. “There was this bright yellow rock and it just said Rocket City Rocks on it and I thought, hmmm. Well this has got to be something,” she said. “This is cool.”
Kelly joined the online group. “I went out and bought a bunch of rocks. I bought my pens, the spray,” she said with a smile. She was hooked. “It’s very therapeutic to me,” she said.
The designs are as different as the artists. 7-year-old Ava Connally proudly held up a rock she was painting saying, “It’s going to be a little chick.” She added, “Oh. I’m going to hid it in Big Spring Park.”
Others are much more detailed. Some use the technique of mandala which is a pattern that takes time and patience. Some are inspirational with messages liked “Blessed” or “Love.” Susanna says they’re intended to “Just to make someone smile and forget their worries just for a moment.”
I couldn’t resist so I painted one with a rocket symbolizing Huntsville. We’ll put it where someone can find it this week. If you do, take a picture and send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll share it with everyone. And then hide it again for someone else to find.
“When you see a post that someone’s found your rock, it is really cool,” Kelly said. “I just love seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they find these rocks,” Ava added. “It just brightens my day.
Susanna also painted a WHNT News 19 rock for us. We’ll leave it where it can be found this week too. If you find it, take a picture and send it to us at email@example.com or tweet it to us on Twitter @whnt. Let’s see where the rock goes! Take it with you on vacation and take a photo. But bring it back and leave it for someone else in the Tennessee Valley to find. We’ll keep up with its travels online.