BREMERTON — If you’ve been to a local park or just walked down a street in Kitsap in the last year, you might have spotted a brightly painted rock on the ground, in a bush or under a tree.
These decorative bits of nature began appearing courtesy of a group of members and fans of Kitsap Rocks, who took it upon themselves to start decorating Kitsap with art, inspiration and whimsy.
Kitsap Rocks is a community group founded by Cathy Tomko and Connie Quatermass, in which group members and anyone else who wants to paints small rocks, seals them with environmentally friendly sealers, and places them in the community for others to find.
Some depict characters befitting the rock’s shape. Some have words that provide the finder some food for thought, like “Believe.”
On April 29, in an effort to give back to the community in a more tangible way and celebrate a year of Kitsap Rocks, the group will participate in a park cleanup at Old Mill Park in Silverdale, to which the public is invited.
“Old Mill in Silverdale is one of the big parks that gets a lot of the debris from the inlet,” Tomko said.
The idea of doing a cleanup came from group member Josephine Broshears, who, Tomko said, is a recent college graduate in environmental sciences who contacted Tomko with the idea of getting involved to help clean up the community.
“This is something we wanted to get into. We just didn’t know where we wanted to start,” Tomko said. “It was good Josephine actually spearheaded this.”
After the cleanup, they will hold a raffle and share cake in celebration. When participants arrive, each will receive one raffle ticket; people who bring a decorated rock get another raffle ticket. So far, Tomko said they have about 10 to 15 donations from local businesses for the raffle, and they will “hopefully end up with about 30.”
“We’ve just skimmed the top,” Tomko said. “It really seems like it’s connecting really well.”
If it rains during the cleanup, Tomko said the post-cleanup celebration will be at the nearby Best Western Plus, which offered to donate space to the group if they need it.
“Kitsap Rocks members are at the parks more than anybody, and it’s been neat to watch the people actually get out,” Tomko said. “They’ve discovered so many parks they never knew existed. Even in the winter, people were hiding rocks in the snow. It’s been really a joy to kind of watch it grow.”
The group started a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/groups/ kitsaprocks, on which people can post photos of rocks they’re hiding or rocks they’ve found.
“It seems to have really brought county residents together, and not just city [residents],” Tomko said. “People travel from Poulsbo and go to the parks in Bremerton and the parks in Port Orchard, and vice versa.”
Today, Tomko said there are more than 5,600 members.
One important factor Tomko stressed is keeping the decorated rocks environmentally friendly. That means, don’t attach items like string hair or googly eyes, as they could fall off and be eaten by wildlife or get into the water or otherwise pollute the environment. It’s also why Kitsap Rocks requests people seal the paint on the rocks.
They also tell members not to hide rocks in federal or state parks, a practice that isn’t allowed.
For more information about Kitsap Rocks and its upcoming cleanup and other events, visit the Facebook page.