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Pair from Leominster, Clinton spreading random rocks of kindness

May 2017

Sentinel & Enterprise
April 2017

LEOMINSTER -- Maybe you noticed one tucked behind a bench in Monument Square or stuck in the notch of a tree in Barrett Park.

Casey Burgoyne of Clinton shows of one of the rocks that are painted by her and Lauren Soucy of Leominster. When finished, they take the rocks out to places in Leominster and hide them for people to find. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE /JOHN LOVE

Sometimes they'll be alone, waiting outside the entrance to a local restaurant, or in groups, dotting a trail through the Doyle Conservation Area every few yards.

Over the last few months small, brightly colored rocks have been discreetly positioned all over Leominster, creating something of a citywide Easter egg hunt.

It should come as no surprise that Leominster artist Lauren Soucy is the one who hides the eggs at her house every Easter. She and fellow painter Casey Burgoyne of Clinton are collaborators on the artistic treasure hunt they've dubbed the Ladybug Project.

"I would love if others started painting rocks, too, and leaving them everywhere," Soucy said. "Because we're going to just keep painting and hopefully bring a little joy in this world."

It's a simple enough concept: paint rocks with bright colors or inspirational messages, hide them in a public place, wait for someone to come along and find them. The project has no particular cause in mind, nor is it trying to raise money or awareness for a specific issue. All Soucy and Burgoyne hope to do is bring a smile to any stranger's face.

"Our world is so negative most of the time," Burgoyne said. "I think if you do something fun, like painting a rock and hiding it somewhere for someone to come along and pick it up, you might really make someone's day.

For Soucy, it's a way to bring a little whimsy into the world.

"People are busy, and there's so much going on in their lives, you don't know what they're going through," she said.

Painting since February, Soucy has already distributed rocks throughout downtown Leominster and Barrett Park. On Thursday she was joined by Burgoyne at the Doyle Conservation Area, where they hid 28 rocks at different points along the walking trails.

As Burgoyne explained, the trick is finding hiding places that are clever but not impossible to find.

"It has to be something in between or underneath something else. Hiding it among other rocks or in a tree work," she said.

However, Soucy and Burgoyne aren't the only ones leaving artistic surprises throughout the city. Soucy said she is aware of at least one other woman painting and hiding rocks, and Burgoyne said she thinks there are others in Leominster.

What sets their project part is the ladybug theme, and frequent habit of painting some of their rocks to look like ladybugs.

"We chose to do ladybugs because they mean good luck and happiness. They're playful," Soucy said. "When you're a kid and you find a ladybug, it makes you happy. I figured if you're an adult and you find one of these then you might think that's kind of cool too."

By Peter Jasinski

Follow Peter Jasinski on Twitter @PeterJasinski53