ennifer Miller and her 11-year-old daughter, Evie, are inspiring a sense of adventure one hidden gem at a time.
Among the fresh cut grasses, gentle creeks and playgrounds in Riverside lie rocks painted with stunning pictures and inspirational expressions. When you come across one of these rocks there’s a good chance the one-of-a-kind design was painted by Jennifer or a member of her team, known as Riverside Rocks.
Ever since starting the Riverside Rocks Facebook group Jennifer says the excitement over finding painted rocks has exploded.
“When I first created the group, I had no idea how quickly it would grow. I thought I might get a few people interested,” said Jennifer.
Jennifer is amazed at the response she has received from the entire community. Many have joined in on the fun, painting their own rocks and hiding them for someone else to find.
“I love seeing the posts on our Facebook page of the kids’ happy, smiling faces when they’ve found a rock. It’s like a treasure hunt to them and makes me happy to know it’s bringing joy to people of all ages,” added Jennifer.
Jennifer has spent countless hours painting nature-themed rocks with critters and animals for the summer season. Typically, she paints images to evoke a smile or happy childhood memory.
So far, dozens of painted rocks have been picked up by someone with a watchful eye and shared on social media.
Bernard Chenault posted on Facebook a photograph of two painted rocks recently found along a walking trail in Riverside. One of the rocks, marked “prize rock,” was turned in at the Riverside City Hall for an award.
The prize-winning rocks celebrate monarch butterflies and the city’s plan to install a sculpture of these whimsical beauties this fall near a fantastic flower garden.
Jennifer said she got the unique idea for Riverside Rocks while on vacation nearly 2,000 miles away.
“My family and I took a trip to Astoria, Oregon last summer to visit our in-laws and there was a rock painting group out there,” said Jennifer. “My in-laws suggested we spend an evening together painting rocks and we had so much fun that I decided to start our own when we got back home.”
Since starting Riverside Rocks last September, Jennifer has hosted several rock painting and family-fun events. Recently, at the Loud & Local music event, Riverside Rocks teamed up with the park’s department to make exquisite origami swans.
It appears Riverside Rocks is more than just creating something beautiful, it’s a way to connect the community, strengthen family ties and work towards a shared goal. But for many it also serves as a creative outlet.
“Personally,” said Jennifer, “I love to paint and draw so I love being able to create images to put on the rocks to brighten someone’s day. But most people enjoy the fact that it gets them to spend quality time together as a family and gets the kids off their electronics for a while.”
Jennifer added that people are participating in a variety of ways, including painting rocks and hiding them or trekking along and searching for them.
Parents interested in taking their children in search of a painted rock should visit specific places.
“A lot of the rocks are hiding at Renner Brenner Park in Riverside; however, rocks can be hiding just about anywhere,” said Jennifer. “The trails in Riverside are a good place to check as well.”
If painting is more your forte, smooth, softly rounded rocks ideal for painting can be purchased at local stores, such as Homestead Landscaping, Home Depot, Lowe’s and even Amazon sells rocks, said Jennifer.
Riverside Rocks has full support from the City of Riverside, including Mayor Kathy Rose.
“I loved Jennifer’s vision of getting families involved in doing something as simple as painting a rock and placing it where someone else could find it in hopes of bringing them a little happiness and joy,” Rose said.
“It also allows a creative outlet for those who like to make something and gets them outside, either to hide or find the rocks, and takes them away from all the electronics that seem to consume our lives. It also is one more component to encourage a healthy lifestyle,” the mayor added.
“I am very inspired and grateful that one of our very own residents was excited to share this fun experience,” Rose remarked.
Due to the amazing response from the community, Jennifer said she will be planning more events in the future.
To learn more about coming events visit Riverside Rocks on Facebook.