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Islip’s ‘Rock My Park’ scavenger hunt comes to social media

Justin McBean, 6 of Bay Shore, left, and

Justin McBean, 6 of Bay Shore, left, and Gabriel Olloa, 5, of Bay Shore, hold a rocks that are part of the Islip Town's #isliprockmypark at Ronkonkoma Recreation Center in Ronkonkoma, Oct. 8, 2017. Credit: Ed Betz

Visitors to Islip’s many parks and recreation centers will be greeted by hundreds of miniature works of art as part of the town’s “Rock My Park” campaign.

Islip officials are calling on residents to participate in a social media scavenger hunt that has students painting rocks and hiding them at parks and recreation centers throughout the town. The goal is for people to find them and share them on social media.

Town officials launched “Rock My Park” to encourage people and families to explore Islip’s park system. It will run through November and return in the warmer months of next year, officials said.

“It’s about getting people out and using the resources and the assets that the town has for the residents,” said Deirdre Wahlberg, assistant to the town’s commissioner of parks and public works. “We want them to use our parks and rec centers.”

Roughly 100 rocks have been decorated so far, with more to come. Each rock includes the hashtag, #IslipRocks, along with information about how to share photos with the town on Twitter and Facebook.

Relocating the rocks to new parks or outdoor spaces is also encouraged, particularly when the move is posted on social media with a clue to its new location.

The project started Oct. 15 with students involved in the town’s after-school Leisure Enrichment Activities Program, but the scavenger hunt is open to the public, and will soon spread to several senior centers, officials said.

For the kids who have been painting rocks, it’s been a welcome challenge.

JadenMcKay, a 9-year-old from Bohemia, painted a sunset over the ocean on one rock, and a mermaid-unicorn on another, his mother, Peggy McKay, said.

“He was very excited,” she said. “He was excited that people all over are going to see it.”

She said the family is planning on heading out to some of the town’s parks soon to participate in the “search” portion of the scavenger hunt.

Terri Esposito of Bohemia recalled her children first excitedly telling her about the project — particularly the prospect of the public at large seeing their artwork.

“They love to do the arts and crafts stuff,” Esposito said. “To add this element of hiding them around for people to find and tag on Facebook makes it all that more exciting for them.”

If You Go: Rules for Rocking the Park in Islip

  • Use acrylic paint on your rock art and finish it with a clear sealer
  • If you see a rock you like, take a photo and post it on the Town of Islip Facebook page, or on Twitter with the hashtag: #isliprocks
  • No hate speech or decorations; such material will be removed
  • Label rocks with www.facebook.com/townofislip or @townofislip
  • Avoid hiding rocks on steps, walkways or grassy areas needing mowing
  • If you take a rock, keep it or re-hide it in any Town of Islip park. Or replace it with one of your own design.

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