Be vewwy quiet: Lakemoor residents are hiding and hunting for painted rocks during pandemic
A scavenger hunt for hand-painted rocks in Lakemoor is keeping some kids and adults busy while businesses and schools are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Participants say painting the rocks gives them something to do during the statewide stay-at-home order. Hiding and then looking for rocks gets people outside, too -- something Gov. J.B. Pritzker has encouraged people to do as long as they stay at least six feet apart from others and wash their hands thoroughly.
"It is great way to keep busy ... and also to get some exercise by walking throughout the neighborhood," Lakemoor resident and rock hunter Kim Carpenter said.
Resident Tisha Eisenmenger launched the activity, which she's dubbed "Lakemoor Rocks."
Similar activities have sprung up in Libertyville, Grayslake and other communities.
Eisenmenger and her three children -- 8-year-old Olivia, 6-year-old Ella and 2-year-old Finley -- started painting and hiding rocks March 16. That was the first day classes in Big Hollow Elementary District 38 were canceled because of the pandemic.
They decorated the initial rocks with positive messages such as "Be Kind" and "Be Happy."
"(We wanted) to make people smile when they are outside walking around during this pandemic," Eisenmenger said.
Participation quickly grew. As of Thursday, more than 120 people belong to a Facebook group dedicated to the effort. Members post photos of rocks they've painted and the ones they've found.
"This has encouraged more and more people to participate and (to) invite others to get involved while social distancing," Eisenmenger said.
In addition to messages, rock designs have included fish, cartoon characters, flowers, birds and even sports team logos.
"So far (we've found) a penguin, a ladybug, one that says SOX, an abstract rainbow pattern, a glittery bug, a frog sticking its tongue out, and one that I think is a bear," said resident Allison Atteberry, who's been looking for rocks with her husband and children.
Atteberry said she loves activities that help people get to know their neighbors and promote community spirit,
"Even if we weren't in social distancing mode, this would be a wonderful way to welcome the spring," she said.
Eisenmenger cautioned people to properly wash their hands after touching any painted rocks. She also said people shouldn't keep found rocks unless they disinfect them to prevent spreading germs.
People who are sick shouldn't participate, Eisenmenger said.