Participants in Maricopa Rocks paint and hide stones, posting photos of found rocks. Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopans have come together in a game of hide-and-seek — with a hard twist.

Members of the Facebook page “Maricopa Rocks” have been hiding painted stones around the city and then posting pictures with clues to their location.

Once found, the rocks can either be kept or hidden again.

If a stone is kept, however, members are encouraged to paint and hide more to keep the game running.

Cassandra Ruelas played the game in Casa Grande and thought Maricopa would like it, too. She created the page for Maricopa on June 30, and the fad has grown to nearly 800 members.

“I love Maricopa. I lived here for four years (and) the closeness we all share is amazing,” Ruelas said. “I know this will just get us all up, out and having fun.”

Maricopa resident Janine Harding spent seven hours Tuesday painting and hiding rocks around the city with her 9-year-old grandson and 13-year-old granddaughter.

In that time, Harding said the trio painted and hid 12 rocks, then found and re-hid 14 more.

“It’s easy to get the kids involved and it’s cheap to do,” Harding said.

Although the craze is rocking Maricopa in July when temperatures often soar above 110 degrees, Harding said it doesn’t stop her family from playing the game.

“They didn’t even notice the heat,” Harding said. “Most people are hiding (rocks) in places that the kids can find easy.”

Although rock hunting is fun, Ruelas and her family prefers to paint and to hide the stones. She said creating the art is therapeutic.

“My mother Rachel suffers with anxiety and she can sit there and paint and be so relaxed,” Ruelas said.

Her 11-year-old daughter enjoys tracking where her rocks end up via social media.

“Every rock we put out has retired, which means (finders of the rocks) keep them,” Ruelas said.

Although there are no hard rules to the game, Ruelas suggests political messages and offensive words be left off of the rocks.

“I just don’t want anyone upset,” she said. “My motto is just inspire someone, make someone’s day (because) there is so much negativity going on in the world, why not make someone smile?”

For more information visit the Maricopa Rocks Facebook page.

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