By Kris Leonhardt
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – If a rock can make a ripple that grows into a wave, imagine what a painted rock can do. That was the vision behind Rockin’ in Rapids – a vision that has grown into a reality.
“I didn’t know that this was going on in a lot of other cities, but I would typically paint a rock for each one of the grandkids for their birthdays,” said Pat Kozicki. “I have a daughter and son-in-law who live in Pensacola (FL). So, when I brought little (grandson) Jackson his rock, my daughter said ‘You should check into this – we have a thing here called Pensacola Rocks – where people paint them and set them all over and they post them online.’
“So, I got in touch with the girls who started that one to get the rules and set up, because I’m not as savvy on the computer as probably someone who is younger.”
Kozicki brought those ideas back to Wisconsin Rapids, but it took a little while for that ripple to build into a growing movement.
“The month of June, last summer, was really rainy. So, I have a nice big porch. I had my grandkids come over for a lot of the days in June, and we just painted rocks. I ended up with about 124 rocks. Then, I started thinking, ‘Well, you know the Fourth of July would be a good time to get them out.’
“So, I made sure that we had it up on Facebook, and we went around and dispersed those 124 rocks for the Fourth of July.”
Kozicki said that it didn’t take long for people to locate the rocks and move them from their temporary home, but it took some time before people understood the concept.
The idea is for individuals to paint rocks and hide them, when found the recipient is then to post to the Facebook page that the rock has been found, and then either keep it or find a new hiding place for the next recipient.
It was approximately a month before she saw the first Facebook post from a young boy who had found one of her rocks in a hallowed out tree trunk.
“Part of the fun of it is seeing that somebody found my rock,” she said.
The movement has grown and the Facebook page has nearly 5,000 members and local stores and public venues are now displaying signage allowing participation within their facilities.
“The way that the game has developed in Rapids now, it is kind of like an Easter egg hunt; people paint them and hide them and kids go with a bucket and try to find as many as they can in a certain area. That’s not the direction that I was thinking it was going to go, but this too is a lot of fun for the kids.”
Kozicki was planning for more of a surprise that people would happen upon.
“To bring pleasure, to bring surprise to the everydayness of life,” she said. “God makes beautiful rocks, but to use them like a canvas… I have always loved doing that.
“It’s many faceted. It’s the pleasure you get from painting the rock, from hiding them, from hosting it and hoping someone will find it and enjoy it, then it is also finding one.”
For more information, visit the Rockin’ in Rapids (RIR) Facebook page.