It's a summer sensation that's sizzling on social media. Painted rocks!
Look almost anywhere in Weatherford and it's likely folks will discover the pint-sized Picasso strategically placed in a variety of locations.
The local craze, known as Weatherford Rocks, began almost a year ago when Kelsey Sexton saw a friend living in Bryan, posting photos of the small masterpieces.
"I saw her posting pictures on Facebook," Sexton said. "I was thinking, ‘what are you doing - why are you painting rocks.'"
She said when it became apparent to her what the motivation was she thought the idea was, "awesome." That motivation Sexton said was to brighten someone's day.
"Originally I started it because so many kids in Weatherford simply don't have anything to do," she said. "I have two children and they love painting rocks. But it's also about brightening someones day and making them smile."
Teammate Amy Murphy, also of Weatherford, said it's been an outlet for her.
"I'm a cancer survivor and during this time I had been confined to bed for more than a month. It got pretty depressing just watching television every day," Murphy said. "This keeps me busy. I now paint and put out about 40 rocks each week."
She says the painted rocks are meant to be “uplifting.”
"Life is tough," she said. "I had someone find a rock and wanted to keep it; that it reminded them of a special moment during their childhood. I said the rock was meant for them."
When a rock is discovered the idea is to take a photo of it and post it to the Weatherford Rocks Facebook page. You can either keep the stone or hide it again, for others to find.
"It's special when you see the rock posted on our Facebook page," Sexton said. "There are hundreds if not thousands of rocks out there. For every 30 rocks hidden I'd estimate only one gets found. So not every rock is going to get seen on social media."
What's more is the groups Facebook page has exploded from around 120 members just four months ago, to close to 5,000 today.
Sexton also said the rocks have breached the Parker County line and been discovered as far away as Oklahoma and Florida.
"A lot of businesses have been participating on their own making special offers to prospective customers," Sexton said. "Offers like free doughnuts and haircuts to manicures and pedicures."
To participate the rules are simple:
Don't take rocks from landscaping. Most people have been going to Carroll Rocks, she said, where they sell stones at a very affordable price.
▪ Don't use profanity on the rocks.
▪ Don't put in the way of mowers or weed eaters.
▪ Get permission before hiding in stores.
▪ Don't place on private property.
▪ Don't hide rocks in a cemetery.
Asked if the activity would continue past the summer Sexton answered yes.
"I'd like to host a paint party but details are still in the works," she said. “This world is crazy today and it's awesome to make someone smile."
Lance Winter: 817-390-7274