Lakeland Rocks: Residents hide painted stones around city

- If you're walking through Lakeland, look down! You might just spot a treasure. Lately, people are finding beautifully painted rocks all over the city. The Facebook group "Lakeland Rocks" is putting them there.

All of this started with a pebble 3,000 miles away. Scott Urquhart and his family were at his son's wedding in Vancouver, Washington when they found a small but brightly painted rock.

"The rock had 'Vancouver rocks' on the back of it," Urquhart said. "We didn't know what it was so we looked it up on Facebook. It was basically a community of people on Facebook who painted rocks and hid rocks throughout the community."

They thought, why not bring the souvenir and the idea back home? His family got to work.

"They started painting a bunch more, I made the group page and here we are today," Urquhart said.

In a matter of weeks, the "Lakeland Rocks" Facebook page exploded to more than 6,000 members, and growing. And, Lakeland has gotten a lot more colorful.

The rocks are being placed all around the city. You can find them outside businesses, downtown and in the parks. Barnett Park is an especially popular spot.

You never know where you'll spot one. But, when you do, you can either keep it for yourself or you can hide it for the next person

"We have some rocks and this one is painted in a tree," said Cambria Roberts, holding up a rock she found.

She and Zoie Helms were not only searching for treasure at Barnett Park. They were hiding some of their own.

"I actually hid a unicorn rock and a Pikachu rock I painted," Helms said.

While some rocks are mini masterpieces, others simply offer words of encouragement. One says, "Not all those who wander are lost." Another reads, "Be free!"
 
"There's just so many people that want to help and want to inspire other people. That's kind of what we do. We just make people happy," said Samantha Cowart, who's painted dozens of rocks.

So, next time you're in Lakeland, watch your step. You might just find a reason to say, "Lakeland rocks."

"That's the message we are trying to get out, is that life isn't always bad," Urquhart added, "that there are some good points. And, it's something so simple as a rock lying on the ground that can do that."

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