When Sumner resident Ruthie Fillmore and her family set out for a walk on the evening of Nov. 21, they were on a mission.
Fillmore’s daughter, Jessica Haeder, pushed a stroller, where, instead of a baby, about 50 rocks painted with unique designs and colors were tucked away. Their mission was to hide them up and down Sumner’s Main Street.
Secured in place with rubber bands around each rock, strips of paper laminated over with tape instructed future finders to visit the Sumner WA Rocks Facebook page to post pictures of the rocks and hide them again.
Fillmore and Haeder started the Facebook page after Fillmore took a camping trip to Whidbey Island over Labor Day weekend with her grandchildren.
“While we were there, (Fillmore’s niece) mentioned to us that if we go into town, any of the little town or beaches on the island, people were hiding rocks,” said Fillmore, 62. “If you found one you were to take a picture of where you found it and either take it or leave it.”
Her grandchildren had a blast finding the rocks, and when they returned to their Sumner home, they placed the rocks in their garden and posted a picture on the Whidbey Island Rocks Facebook page, which has more than 17,000 members. Fillmore wanted to keep the rock painting going, so they started their own Facebook page.
“I told my daughter about it and how much fun everyone had and that it would be fun to start one here in our little town,” Fillmore said.
I told my daughter about it and how much fun everyone had and that it would be fun to start one here in our little town.
Ruthie Fillmore, co-founder of Sumner WA Rocks Facebook page
The Sumner WA Rocks Facebook page has 60 members and is growing as more and more cities start the trend. Neighboring cities Puyallup (Puyallup Rocks) and Bonney Lake (Bonney Lake Rocks!) both have Facebook pages dedicated to the painted rock hide and seek, too.
Fillmore, who lives with her husband, daughter and three grandchildren, says life can get busy at home, and that painting rocks is a way to have some family time. On their outings, they walk down to the Puyallup river and take rocks home to paint.
“(Hiding rocks) is family time, instead of playing video games or (on) the computer,” said Haeder. “Painting the rocks is family time, too.”
Haeder’s three children, Jesse (14), Kendra (12) and Lily (11), all go to Sumner Middle School. Before they moved to Sumner three years ago, they went to an art magnet school in Nebraska that fostered their love of the arts.
“When their friends come over and spend the night, they’ll paint the rocks,” Fillmore said, who mentioned she’s an artsy person herself. “It’s fun and it gives them something to do.”
From images of flowers and hearts to a slice of pizza and a unicorn, Jesse, Kendra and Lily Haeder exercise their creativity when they paint.
I like hiding them because I hide them in places where it’s sort of easy but sort of hard (to find).
“I looked a lot on Pinterest and online at rock painting,” Lily said, adding that she likes “the fact that we can see what everyone’s painting. And hiding them is fun.”
Kendra agrees that hiding the rocks is the part she enjoys the most.
“I like hiding them because I hide them in places where it’s sort of easy but sort of hard (to find),” she said.
On their outing last week, the family hid the rocks next to trees, between bushes, under benches and in the corners of buildings.
Already, photos of the rocks they hid have popped up on the Sumner WA Rocks Facebook page, with members of the group saying the rocks “brighten(ed) up my morning” and “made my day.”
“To read (what) people have been posting about finding the rocks have really been heart-touching,” Fillmore said. “I told my daughter it can really make a person feel good just to find a pretty rock on a bad day. So it looks like everyone is enjoying it and have joined in. I just hope everyone keeps it up and we keep putting a smile on someone’s face.”