Parks and Rec plans rock treasure hunt

Part of Kids to Parks Week

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ In honor of Kids to Parks Week, (May 13-20), Marshalltown Parks and Rec is sponsoring a treasure hunt, whereby painted rocks of varying sizes will be placed in Marshalltown’s 21 parks for people to find. Pictured are MHS students Sher Wah, left, and Ariel Daniel, who attended the Parks and Rec painting party Wednesday afternoon at the high school. The general public is also welcome to paint their own rocks, and place them around the parks.

Marshalltown’s 21 parks are about to get rocky.

Marshalltown Parks and Recreation is planning a special treasure hunt, whereby painted rocks of various sizes and colors will be scattered throughout the public parks in town next week, as a way to encourage youth to get outdoors and explore the parks.

“Mayor Jim Lowrance recently proclaimed ‘Kids to Parks Week’ in Marshalltown (May 13-20),” said Parks and Rec Director Anne Selness. “We encourage residents to participate by joining our Marshalltown Rocks! Treasure Hunt event to commemorate the National Park Trust’s seventh annual Kids to Parks Day.”

Selness has teamed with Marshalltown High School physical education instructor Chris Ehlert for the project. Around 200 rocks have already been decorated by students, with more expected. Wednesday afternoon, Selness hosted a public painting party at MHS where she provided rocks and all needed painting supplies for anyone interested in getting involved. Those who didn’t attend the painting party may paint rocks on their own time, with rocks available at the Parks and Rec office.

“Kids and their parents can paint ordinary small rocks of any shape in bright colors with pictures, positive sayings or anything that may brighten someone else’s day,” Selness said. “The rocks are to spread joy and inspire creativity in both the designer and finder. The painted rocks will then be placed in area parks, playgrounds and along our recreational trails throughout the city.”

Selness said it is best to avoid leaving the painted rocks in the grass, lest they be hit by lawn mowers.

“The base of a tree, at the top of a slide or on playground equipment would be best,” she said.

People are welcome to leave the painted rocks in the parks anytime between May 13-20.

“Chris and her students will distribute their rocks next week. There is no way of knowing how many rocks will end up in the parks, or which ones will have the most in them to find,” she said.

The golden rule for the treasure hunt is if you find a rock you must either take it or re-hide it. If you take it, you must leave a new painted rock.

“Some rocks may have very simple designs and others may be works of art. Giving out and sharing these beautiful, miniature pieces of art, and collecting others’ creations, are all part of the fun,” Selness said.

She said the rocks can be painted with acrylic water-based paints or permanent markers. You may write your name, special message or attach a label with a Facebook page address. You may take a photo of a rock and post where it was found and tag the Marshalltown Parks and Recreation Department on Facebook.

“Marshalltown has 21 beautiful parks, so why not get out and see what they have to offer,” Selness said.

For more information, contact her at 641-754-5715 at the Parks and Recreation office, or email at: