Connecting strangers through a bit of color with ‘rock snakes’

Jul 14, 2023, 8:27 PM | Updated: Jul 15, 2023, 3:35 pm

DRAPER, Utah — Snakes are popping up in residential neighborhoods from Tooele down to Draper, and they are turning heads for all the right reasons.

Six-year-old Liberty Sellers, of Draper, had the idea to create Rockwell the Artistic Rock Snake on the Porter Rockwell Trail at 12715 S. Boulter Street. It started with her family painting a few rocks and placing them in a line, with a sign encouraging others to paint and share as well.

“Liberty loves hiding treasures for people to find. She begged to make a rock snake,” Kelsee Sellers, Liberty’s mom said. “When the project reached 100 rocks, she was over the moon. And then 200…and 300! Every milestone she has been so excited! Rockwell was only up for 2.5 weeks when it had reached 500 rocks.”

The Rock Snake is quickly approaching 600 rocks of all designs, shapes and colors.

“It’s just a joyful project to see. It brightens people’s days,” Sellers said.

Last week, when going to check on Rockwell’s growth – hikers noticed a sign posted by Draper City demanding the rock snake be removed by Monday, July 10th.

“I was really sad. I thought Rockwell was all done growing,” Liberty, who will be in 1st Grade in the fall, said. “And I really, really wanted to watch him grow throughout the summer.”

Linda Peterson, Communications Director for Draper City shared this statement with KSL TV for their reasoning behind the removal.

“The city told us the problem rested with free speech on a public trail; if they approved this Rock Snake, they would have to approve everything. So we did what we could to keep the magic alive,” Kelsee said.

Family members loaded the pieces of Rockwell into a wagon and transplanted the snake to a different location about 30 feet off the trail – on some unusable and abandoned railroad tracks.

“The area was very overgrown, so we spent days with chainsaws and pruners to clear the debris so people aren’t bumping into things when they come to place rocks,” Kelsee said.

Numerous families have come to participate.

“It was an uplifting reminder of unity and simple joy as I passed it on my ride today,” a bicyclist said.

The KSL TV rock in the line of rocks. (KSL TV)

As Liberty and her mother counted the rocks, four generations were there on the tracks. Liberty’s great grandmother: Linda Richins, her Grandma: Julie Mitchell and mother: Kelsee Sellers stood together admiring a project that has brought more than just their family together.

And in Riverton, “Ernie” the Rock Snake is now more than 50 feet long. Ernie dots the intersection of Cervina and Chamonix Way and has been growing for a month.

Tooele has a Rock Snake too. Theirs is named Romeo and can be found outside the Tooele Market Place.

Organizers said all of these snakes have a common purpose to bring communities together and encourage artistic design.

“We have added rocks; they are fun little rocks! This helps kids not be bored in the summer,” Liberty said. “Rockwell the Snake makes my heart happy!”

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Connecting strangers through a bit of color with ‘rock snakes’