By Ron Giofu
The town’s tourism department, in co-operation with several local community groups, is trying to demonstrate both figuratively and literally that Amherstburg “rocks.”
Jen Ibrahim, the visitor centre manager, said the town undertook the project in conjunction with local resident Bruce Patterson with Patterson having brought it to the town’s attention.
“I just loved the idea and the time was right with the Canada 150 festival coming up,” said Ibrahim.
The Amherstburg Community Services (ACS) senior group, Amherstburg Girl Guides, Boy Scouts and The House Youth Centre are just a few of the groups involved in this project, Ibrahim said. Over 100 colourfully painted rocks have been turned into the Gordon House with more being hoped for as the spring and summer seasons go on.
“It was truly inspiring to see people coming in with their rocks and how beautiful they are,” she said.
The public can look for the rocks and if they find them, they can re-hide them or even keep them. Rocks will be hidden in Navy Yard Park and other parks within Amherstburg.
Many of the rocks are painted with a Canada 150 theme but others got artistic in other ways. Ibrahim said the project has been undertaken within the last two months or so and people she has approached to help have just run with it.
“People who paint the rocks are giving for the sake of giving,” said Ibrahim. “The whole idea is that it is inspiring creativity and energizing people to explore our beautiful town.”
Ibrahim said the hope is that more people will paint rocks and hide them in order that the program becomes sustainable. People are also being encouraged to photograph the rocks they find and post them on social media with the hashtag #AburgROCKS.
“It is an opportunity to brighten someone’s day,” Ibrahim said of the #AburgROCKS program.
The initiative is for both residents and visitors alike, with it being “added value” for those who visit Amherstburg.
“I hope finding a rock is part of their unique experience of visiting Amherstburg,” said Ibrahim.
Patterson said he discovered the idea when visiting his sister-in-law in New Port Richie in Florida. He said a rock was spotted near a tree and later learned the initiative was started by a group of mothers. When he and his wife went to visit their son near Tampa, they discovered the initiative was started by people there as well.
“When I came home, I said ‘that would be a neat idea for Amherstburg,’” said Patterson.
Patterson believes families will enjoy looking for the rocks, with the hope being that if people choose to keep them, they will replace the painted rocks with some of their own.
“I think it would be fun seeing it in Amherstburg,” he said. “It’s a wonderful idea.”
Noting he has volunteered for other events like the River Lights Winter Festival and the Amherstburg Farmers Market, the retired teacher said he enjoys living in town and likes to give back. He believes Amherstburg has done a good job promoting itself in the last 15-20 years.
“Amherstburg is a fabulous town,” said Patterson. “I love it here and want to promote it.”