Rock stars: Niskayuna family spreads color, cheer in River Road Park

Niskayuna family Susan Guilmette and her children Daniel, 13, and Anna, 12.
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Niskayuna family Susan Guilmette and her children Daniel, 13, and Anna, 12.

Categories: News, Saratoga County

Susan and Anna Guilmette have rocked the rainbow this spring.

The Niskayuna mother-and-daughter team is behind an explosion of color inside the town’s River Road Park.

People who walk the park will notice: Small rocks and stones, painted in rainbow colors, have been placed near walking paths.

Susan Guilmette, a teacher at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish School, took inspiration from the virus-lightening 518 Rainbow Hunt. The Facebook project, which inspired people to place artistic rainbows in windows and on driveways, began in Scotia and has become an international sensation.

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At first, painting small rocks found in their yard and at the park was a diversion: Anna, 12, and her brother Daniel, 13, were home from school and needed hobbies after finishing lessons at St. Pius X in Loudonville.

“Then we were thinking, ‘OK, we’ve got all these rocks, what can we do with them?'” Guilmette said.

The family decided to decorate the park. A large colored rock painted “518 Rainbow Hunt” was placed in River Road, along with a laminated note. Susan, Anna and Daniel put the stones in their spots.

“As you walk the trails, look for (but don’t touch!) the rainbows,” the note read. “We’ve hidden 18 rainbows on the main trails here at River Road Park. Please enjoy the hunt, but leave them were you find them for others to find them as well. And feel free to add rainbows of your own.”

A laminated sign placed under a "518 Rainbow Hunt" sign tells visitors to Niskayuna's River Road Park that colored stones and rocks are hidden near the walking trails. Susan Guilmette and her daughter Anna painted the stones; visitors are adding their own contributions. Photo courtesy Susan GuilmettePhoto courtesy Susan Guilmette
A laminated sign placed under a “518 Rainbow Hunt” sign tells visitors to Niskayuna’s River Road Park that colored stones and rocks are hidden near the walking trails. Susan Guilmette and her daughter Anna painted the stones; visitors are adding their own contributions.

Guilmette said the park adventure — it’s like an Easter egg hunt where the eggs keep their hiding places — has inspired town painters to add new art pieces.

“I think there are over 50 rocks out there now,” Guilmette said. “People over the weeks have been adding their own painted rocks onto the trails … if you walk the trail at River Road, you can see them throughout the park.”

Some people have found the rocks during their usual walks through the park. Others have learned about the search challenge through posts on the 518 Rainbow Hunt page.

The largest rocks are about the size of a grapefruit. The smallest are small enough for pockets and purses.

Anna Guilmette has had fun painting and placing the stones; the sixth-grader said smooth stones provide the best canvases.

Anna has also decided to expand her artistic expression, and is now making small stone “cactus people” for her friends.

 

Susan Guilmette believes the painting experience can help people find something to do.

“I understand how stressed out you get having your regular schedule disrupted and having your kids all day long and being desperate for something to do with them,” Guilmette said. “We just felt …here’s a thing we can share, what we’ve been doing to help with our own anxieties over this whole thing.” 

“We could share that but still allow people to get out of the house and do it in a safe manner,” Guilmette added, “so they weren’t going to be near other people. You can take your kids to River Road Park and walk for a little while and let them look for the rainbows.”

She’s glad people have been looking.

“I’ve had a lot of people text me afterward or email me afterward just to say ‘Thank you so much, the kids really enjoyed this, we had so much fun looking for the rocks,'” Guilmette said.

“And we’ve had other people who texted us with pictures of the rocks that they were adding,” she said. “So that was really nice, too.”

Contact staff writer Jeff Wilkin at 518-641-8400 or at [email protected]

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