Facebook group bringing smiles to Pensacola with painted rocks

Photo: Kathryn Daniel

Last weekend children from all over the world went out to hunt for colorful eggs as they celebrateed Easter. The thrill of searching for small, decorated objects does not have to end with childhood, as millions of adults have discovered through painted rock clubs.

Be sure to look around and down as you go out and and about all along the Gulf Coast. You will probably come across some very special stones.

Susan Zampachova had a serious case of FOMO, or "Fear of Missing Out." She really was, as she became fascinated with an online rock group in Vancouver, Canada.

She explained, "As I watched all the fun they were having, I was like, 'Oh, I want one of those here, why don't we have one here?'"

Why not indeed? Her daughter urged her to take action.

"She says, 'Mom, just make one yourself!'" she said.

That's just what she did. Around the same time, then-stranger Cyndi Goforth was having the same idea.

They connected just two months ago. Zampachova formally founded the Pensacola Rocks Facebook page, Goforth is in charge of public relations.

"Everywhere I went I'd say, 'Hey, have you heard of Pensacola Rocks? Have you heard of Pensacola Rocks?' I'm getting the word out there," she laughed.

Their efforts are working. Since January their group has grown from 200 to 1,300 members.

The point of the group is to paint rocks with funny or inspirational sayings, or perhaps just cute pictures and place them in public places and as Goforth put it, "to just spread joy."

Zampachova's granddaughter Gracie is more than happy to do just that. The 4-year-old loves placing them all around town, and when she can't wait for folks to find them, she happily hand delivers them to folks.

Goforth said part of her philosophy is if people are painting, placing or hunting for rocks, they're not on their phones.

"We have no rules or regulations. We have people who decoupage, or they put stickers on 'em and that's fun. Just bring joy to people," grinned Goforth.

Pensacola Rocks Facebook is on the back of each stone. Goforth said finders can certainly be keepers, or often people place them again.

Zampachova said that church groups, art classes and scout troops are painting rocks locally and she's meeting new folks like never before, which she's really enjoying.

She's also thrilled to see her vision embraced and shared over and over again across her native Pensacola.

"My daughter told me you can do it, and I actually did it," she smiled.

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