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Painted rocks, Easter eggs and fun

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Students from Mae Richardson Elementary School make their way to Twin Creeks Park in Central Point to hide painted Easter rocks. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Mae Richardson Elementary School first-grade teacher Kristina Jantzer takes pictures of students with the Eater bunny, Darin Jantzer in Twin Creeks Park in Central Point Thursday morning. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Mae Richardson Elementary School first-grader Jack Simas hides one of his painted rocks in Twin Creeks Park in Central Point Thursday morning. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune
Mae Richardson Elementary School first-grader Mychael Mooring hides one of her painted rocks in Twin Creeks Park in Central Point Thursday morning. Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune

A community-wide collaboration of Easter bunny cheer will be converging on Central Point parks, schools and neighborhoods this weekend.

Instead of colorful eggs, intricately — and or at least brightly – painted rocks of all shapes and sizes will be hidden amid the landscape and in nooks and crannies.

With the holiday celebrations largely nonexistent in the early days of COVID-19 last year, school children, Scouts and families stepped up this year to ensure a respectable “hunt” could take place this year.

Scout troops, school children and families rallied last month after the “Central Point – What’s Happening” Facebook page, run by community advocate Debbie Saxbury, challenged residents to paint and hide as many Easter-themed rocks as they could muster.

Saxbury said the effort was to promote community togetherness and provide something fun after a year when fun has often been hindered.

Kristina Erickson-Jantzer, a first-grade teacher at Mae Richardson, marched to Twin Creeks Park with two other teachers and groups of students to hide rocks they’d painted in recent weeks.

“The kids have been just super excited about it. They couldn’t wait to go to the park to hide them all, and then the Easter bunny made an appearance, too,” Jantzer said.

Jack Simas, 6, said he hid two rocks and was hopeful they’d be easy to find.

“We’re hiding rocks so then other people can find the rocks, like eggs, so they can think the Easter bunny was here to hide them for them,” he said.

“Last Easter we didn’t go anywhere, so the Easter bunny delivered it all in our backyard for us.”

Olivia Martinez, 7, hid a pair of rocks — one painted with a chicken and another painted to look like a purple and yellow egg.

“We get to hide them so people can find them and then other people are gonna hide rocks for us to find. Rocks are better because you don’t break them,” Olivia said.

Central Point mom Amanda Cirillo said her scouts in Pack 50 started painting rocks as a way to lift spirits during the lingering months of the pandemic before they heard about the community effort this year.

“For us, it started as a way for recruiting for Cub Scouts. When we heard that everyone was doing the rocks for an Easter project, we were able to participate with the community to help with a fun little Easter hunt,” she said, noting that the rocks painted and hidden by Pack 50 will be painted in Cub Scout blue and yellow.

Cirillo said her scouts donated for a drive-by Easter celebration hosted by the city, and they planned to hide rocks Saturday.

“We are going to hide them around Central Point, in the parks and at the schools, so when kids are out playing and enjoying the nice weather they can find something that could be a treasure,” said the mom.

“We just feel like we’ve all been so isolated, so we really do all need to have something fun.

Jocksana Corona said her family painted 73 rocks to hide as part of the community Easter rock event. Corona and her family lost their home to the Almeda fire last year, but a favorite pastime during COVID-19 has been rock painting. Corona and her family lived for over 100 days at a local Girl Scout facility until they were able to relocate and find housing in Central Point.

“We had been painting rocks since about two weeks after quarantine started, so it was something we already enjoyed. We would hide them when we went out at night to walk our dogs,” Corona said.

“When we finally found a new place to live, our daughter started walking the dogs and found houses with rock gardens, and one of the places had a sign that said, ‘take a rock, paint a rock.’”

Jantzer said the rock hunt would be a fun way to celebrate a holiday as a community while still social distancing and staying safe.

“It’s been such a hard time, and so many people are under different stresses,” said the teacher.

“We just wanted to show that we’re still there for each other as a community.”

Another event, billed as an alternative to the egg hunts of the prepandemic era, will take place Saturday. The city of Central Point will host “Eggstravaganza” to give kids a little Easter fun in a socially distanced fashion.

The drive-thru style egg hunt will take place in the Twin Creeks neighborhood between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., with the Easter bunny being on hand with goodie bags (supplies are limited) at the end of the trail, 555 Twin Creeks Crossing.

For more info, see centralpointoregon.gov or facebook.com/greenparkscp

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.