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How Vernon residents are spreading community spirit one painted rock at a time

Tasha and Ciara Jolie at the Wishing Tree.
June 23, 2017 - 8:00 PM

VERNON - Located on a nondescript side street in Vernon sits a landmark known by all the neighbourhood kids as ‘The Wishing Tree.’

A little wooden sign describing it as such has hung in the branches for about a decade, according to local mom Tasha Jolie. The base of the tree is surrounded by dozens of colourfully painted rocks. 

“People write messages or some people just do pictures. Sometimes there’s little sayings,” she says.

The tree can be found at the corner of Allenby Way and 27 Avenue, in the Okanagan Landing area of Vernon. 

Jolie's 10-year-old daughter Ciara has been painting and depositing rocks there for years.

Painted rocks add a pop of colour at the base of a tree in Heritage Park in Vernon.
Painted rocks add a pop of colour at the base of a tree in Heritage Park in Vernon.

“Lots of people put (out) rocks, and then you make wishes on the rocks,” she says.

No one knows who started the tradition, but Jolie says all the neighbourhood kids love to stop by the tree to leave or look at rocks.

Even in the wintertime, when the tree loses its leaves, it’s a site to behold.

“Somebody comes and decorates it with Christmas ornaments,” Jolie says.

The idea of leaving painted rocks in public places is growing in popularity. A new group formed in Vernon just last week with the aim of leaving painted rocks in surprise locations around Vernon.

Ashley Spate holds up a pair of painted rocks.
Ashley Spate holds up a pair of painted rocks.

“I think it’s a way to bring the community together. I’ll see a rock somebody else painted and it will make me feel more connected to Vernon,” organizer Chelsey Spates says.

The Facebook group “Vernon Rocks” gained nearly 200 members over the past week, and numerous rocks are already hidden around the city, Spates says.

“On each one of the rocks we write ‘Vernon Rocks’ and a Facebook logo so people know where to look for us,” she says.

People are welcome to keep a rock if they find it, and Spates encourages them to paint their own to leave in its place. She says her kids, aged 12 and nine, love hunting for new rocks to paint.

“At first they wanted to keep the rocks, but it’s about giving and being generous,” she says.

Whether you visit the Wishing Tree or stumble upon a hidden rock, the brightly painted stones are a reminder that someone is thinking about you — even if it’s a complete stranger.



To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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