The rock snake that started as a pandemic project in Magnetawan last year now has a name.
‘Maggie’ was the preferred name from a list of about two dozen suggestions local residents submitted in a Name the Rock Snake contest.
Laura Brandt, the municipality's deputy clerk and head of recreation and communications, said entries were sent to the municipality, and from the list residents voted on Survey Monkey.
Brandt said the only stipulation was the name had to start with the letter ‘M’ to reflect the first letter in Magnetawan's name.
She adds the winning entry won a $50 gift card to be spent at a local business.
A resident proposed the rock snake project to the municipality last year as a means to lift people's spirits while the pandemic was still a major factor.
“It was a great idea and the municipality supplied the rocks, brushes and paints,” Brandy said.
“We then talked to Magnetawan Public Central School about students painting the rocks to kick start the project.”
The result was 73 rocks painted by students in JK all the way through Grade 8.
The first rocks were laid in a straight line on a trail at the start of the Lions Parkway with the goal of making it all the way to Centennial Beach.
Brandt says there are now more than 300 rocks that dot the trail as adults and more young children joined in the project.
Although it’s now closed for the season, the Heritage Museum Centre had an area set aside where people could paint rocks over the year to add to the project.
The municipality supplied all the materials.
Brandt says at about 300 rocks, Maggie is now about halfway to the beach and once the museum reopens next spring and the free public painting resumes, it’s expected that the rock snake will reach Centennial Beach some time next summer.
Brandt says in the meantime, if people want to paint their own rocks at home they’re more than welcome to do so and they can add the finished piece to the snake line.
Brandt said rock snake projects sprung up in various communities as a way for residents to recognize frontline workers and their never-ending effort to help the public during the early days of COVID-19.
And from there, the phenomenon just kept growing.
At the local level, Brandt said the rock snake generated a lot of positive online comments.
“I didn't think a rock snake could do that,” Brandt said.
“But this was a morale booster that was needed at the time.”
Brandt says some of the rocks residents have painted “are miniature works of art.”
That may also help explain why some of the rocks along the line have gone missing.
But Brandt said the number is small and the gaps are easily filled as newly painted rocks arrive.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.