Bucks County Herald

A rocking surprise

Bucks teen paints, hides stones for strangers to find

REGINA YOUNG



Unami Middle School student Zoe Petsch has been spending her summer break painting rocks and hiding them for people to find.

Take a look around the next time you’re in a parking lot and you may drive off with more than a bag of groceries or a full tank of gas.

Painted rocks adorned with inspirational messages, fun patterns and iconic characters have been hidden at various locations in Bucks County, including supermarkets, gas stations, retail stores, banks and parks, courtesy of a Chalfont teenager who is spending her summer break brightening the lives of total strangers.

Zoe Petsch, a 13-year-old Unami Middle School student, loves her community and loves giving back, so she came up with the idea of painting rocks and hiding them for residents to find as they go about their lives, her mother, Lori Petsch, wrote in an email.

“It’s a fun project to do in the community with all the craziness going on in this world,” she added.

With the help of her mom, the rising eighth-grader has decorated and stashed 45 rocks so far, each one colorfully splashed in electric hues of paint, decorated with special designs or inscribed with positive affirmations.

One rock encourages people to “Bee Happy” and is accompanied by none other than a drawing of a bumblebee, while another one of Zoe’s creations reminds individuals to “Smile.” Some rocks pay homage to Spider-Man, M&M’s and the Philadelphia Eagles; others have been jazzed up with patterns, shapes and symbols; and then there are stones that have ribbons painted on them – ribbons associated with diseases such as cancer, which has personally affected Zoe’s family.

“When I found out my PopPop (grandfather) was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer, I wanted to try to make as many people smile as I could – even when life gets tough,” Zoe explained. “Painting rocks and leaving them in random places for people to find was sure to make people happy and take their minds off everyday struggles, if even just for a second.”

Anyone who finds a rock is encouraged to keep or re-hide it, but not before snapping a picture and posting where it was originally discovered on the project’s Facebook page, Hidden Rock Journey. More than 10 rocks have already been found.

“My son found this and was so excited to find it a new hiding spot. Thanks for making our trip to the Giant more fun,” one local mother posted on Facebook alongside a picture of the rock, which had been painted in pink and emblazoned with the word, “Peace.”

Inscribed with “Hope,” the purple-ribbon stone created in Zoe’s grandfather’s honor was hidden at Doylestown Hospital. A woman who found the rock said she planned on keeping it and tagged her post with the message, “Feeling optimistic.”

“It was so rewarding,” Zoe said of that rock’s discovery.

Zoe’s mom said they plan on hiding the giant pebbles of positivity “as long as people keep finding them,” so the next time you’re out and about, take some time to stop and smell the roses – maybe even stop and pick up a rock.

ryoung@buckscountyherald.com




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