BUCKSPORT, Maine — Miles Lane Trail. Great Pond Mountain. Greenville, Maine. Even Fenway Park.
Bucksport rocks can be found anywhere, if you keep your eye out for them. The usually multicolored stones are being spread around by residents who belong to a local Facebook group created by 44-year-old town resident Shannon Radley, who began the endless Easter egg-like hunt about two years ago.
The idea is simple. Find a rock. Paint said rock with a cheerful slogan, maybe a cartoon character — SpongeBob SquarePants is a favorite of the under-10-year-old set — on one side and “Post on Facebook Bucksport Rocks” on the other. Post a picture of it to the “ Bucksport Rocks” Facebook group, and leave the rock anywhere on public property where somebody else might find it. If you find one in your travels, also share a picture of it with the Facebook group, with a description of where it was found.
The simple game, Radley said, enthralls youngsters and engages adults who need an excuse to get exercise or who like to paint rocks. She recommends using acrylic paint topped with an acrylic sealer spray for the best and most enduring results. And she asks game participants to avoid leaving rocks too close to the shoreline on the town waterfront or any place that kids might find hazardous to search.
Radley estimates that there are several thousand painted rocks out there to find. And people are frequently sharing their rock-related adventures on the Facebook page, which had 1,132 members as of Tuesday. (Bucksport was home to 4,926 residents as of the most recent U.S. Census Bureau estimate.)
“I enjoy painting them, getting together with friends and stuff and painting. I like to go out and hide them, but I’m not one who goes out on searches,” Radley said. “A lot of little kids really like it. I see it all the time because I work right in downtown Bucksport. You can always hear them on the waterfront when they are out looking for rocks or finding them. They get really excited.”
The game is a healthy, community-building exercise that helps get people out on the town’s 5.7 miles of public trails, Town Manager Susan Lessard said.
“Practically everywhere you go, when you’re walking the trails or walking the waterfront or, or just walking Main Street, you may find a painted rock,” Lessard said.
Radley started the Facebook group after finding a painted rock dedicated to Bradenton, Florida, when she was vacationing there and visiting the “Bradenton Rocks” Facebook group.
Radley’s page recently recorded a find at the Boston Museum of Science by a Canadian woman who announced on the page that she intended to bring the rock to Quebec City and leave it out for someone else to find. Bucksport’s waterfront, Ellsworth, a Dairy Queen in Belfast and Presque Isle are among the other places where rocks have been found or left recently, according to the page. In Bucksport, Miles Lane Trail is a popular spot for finding and leaving rocks.
Most of the rocks are colorfully painted and have cheerful sentiments scrawled on them. One rock featured on the page has a depiction of a giraffe, seagulls and a bright sun, and was shaped like the African continent. “Shh … I’m hiding” was written on another.
The Town Council recently dedicated a tree on the Miles Lane Walking Trail to the rock game. And Councilor Paul Bissonnette told the council that he recently left a rock at Fenway Park, Lessard said.
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