In the 1950s, people needed a Hula Hoop to be cool. 1960s? Bounce a Superball over a house. In 1975, it was the Pet Rock. By the 80s, Transformers were turning heads and in the 90s, the American Girl Doll store in New York City had people lined up down the block to get in.
Now, a new craze has taken hold among people of all ages in cities like St. Petersburg and Gulfport – using rocks.
Yes, but this time with a twist.
High-tech social media is now involved to record and share finds along with high-touch craft time to paint and label rocks that will be placed in public areas for people to discover.
It’s all about sharing fun with others, whether it’s on Facebook, at a rock decorating party or hunting for hidden treasure.
“My two daughters have been doing this for about five months every couple of days,” said Amanda Marshall. “I found out about it because I had a friend that tagged me on Facebook. I joined St. Pete Rocks when there were about 1,000 members and now there’s over 15,000. I got my family involved right away.”
About 40 to 50 rocks that come packaged in bulk bags labeled “Large Caribbean Beach Pebbles” can be bought for about $12.50 a bag from local building supply or home improvement stores. For best results, rinse the rocks with water and allow them to dry before painting, said Marshall.
At a recent backyard painting party in St. Petersburg, six kids, ranging in age from 2 to 8 years old, and three adults dedicated about two hours to making custom rocks with paint brushes, markers and pre-printed labels that included identifying information and suggested instructions: “Take a pic of me and post on Facebook at St. Pete Rocks. Then rehide me. I like to travel.”
When rocks are found, some people relocate them or keep favorites as works of art.
After the paint dried at the party, everyone regrouped along Shore Boulevard S. in Gulfport to hide their creations in bushes, at the bases of palm trees and even on the seat of a custom golf cart.
“I like to get surprised when I find a rock,” said Alanna Marshall.
What is the most special rock she has seen so far?
“A big blue rock that had dots all over it because it was really pretty,” she said. Her parents and younger sister found it.
What are some tips for hiding a rock?
“You have to make it not too hard to find,” said Kendel Anderson. “You mostly want to make it easy for people to see it. I like short grassy spots.”
What does she like most about finding rocks?
“I collect them,” she said. “Then, when I go to hide the ones I’ve made, I can hide the ones I have collected too.”
What does she like most about the rock craze?
“When people find them you can say, ‘Hey! They found my rock!’” she said. “It’s really exciting.”
For more, visit facebook.com/groups/StPeteRocks. For Gulfport Rocks, visit facebook.com/groups/1724764691107124. Search for other rock logging Facebook pages by using the name of whatever city you desire.