Painted Rocks Phenomenon Captivates Eastport Area

By Lura Jackson

 

If you’ve been around the Eastport area lately, or know someone that has, you may have heard of a phenomenon that has recently taken the coastal community by storm. A few weeks ago, 30 hand-painted rocks were hidden around the downtown. As they were discovered by residents and visitors, many of whom shared pictures of their finds on Facebook, the excitement quickly grew. Within a few days, people began painting and hiding their own rocks, and hundreds of people soon started participating in the search.

“We thought it would catch on, but not so quickly, or with the age range that participates,” said Tobi Wuchter, who, with her husband, Glenn, is responsible for starting Eastport Rocks. “In a day and age of electronic games, we hoped people would enjoy an ‘old-fashioned’ form of hide and seek in a feel-good way.” 

The rocks are each unique works of art in their own right, some of them boasting intricate images or landscapes while others are pop culture icons such as Spiderman. Many of the rocks feature locally-themed imagery such as blueberry pie, lobsters, clams, or a lighthouse. They are hidden in any number of places, some of them appropriate to their theme (such as one with the words “Home is Where the Heart is”, found first by the Eastport Nursing Home).

The response from the community to the rocks with their positive messaging has been overwhelming. One woman was delighted to find a rock with the word “Love” written on it in her garden, where she plans to leave it. A young girl by the name of Avery was thrilled to find a rock with a lighthouse painted on it; since she and her family will be leaving soon she plans to hold on to the rock as a souvenir of her time here in Downeast Maine. Don Dunbar was surprised and pleased to find a rock hidden in his gallery. One by one, photo by photo, each find brightens the day of the community. Discoveries are posted to the Eastport Rocks channel on Facebook, which now has over 700 members.

“So often we witnessed negativity on our Facebook feeds, but now it is filled with smiling faces, new works of art and positivity,” said Wuchter.

Community members that participate in the searching and hiding process are actively exercising, engaging their creativity, and are often rewarded with special finds. One Eastport resident commented that she has seen more young people out walking around than she has in the past 15 years. The Wuchters encourage rock discoverers to re-hide their finds for the benefit of others, or, if a rock is a “keeper”, they ask that additional rocks be painted and circulated to compensate.

The support for Eastport Rocks is continuing to expand. Shead JMG students have painted rocks demonstrating school pride, the kindergarten class has painted and hidden rocks, and the Peavey Library is hosting a rock painting and hiding event on June 28th at 1:00 pm. Drew Greenlaw was so enthusiastic about the project that he dubbed a rock painted like a clam to be the “Community Clam” and is offering a $5 donation to the local organization of the finder’s choice when a photo is posted to Facebook. The IGA is getting on board as well, with finders of a rock bearing its logo being rewarded with a free whoopie pie. 

The popularity of the painted rocks is rapidly spreading, and adopters are taking the trend to Quoddy Village, Perry, and Calais. Next time you’re out walking around, don’t forget to have a look on the ground – you might be the next discoverer of a prized painted rock!