Call it a shell game, a clever movement of the hand to capture the eye.
It’s official name is “Tide & Seek Apalachicola Area Oyster Shell Art (Forgotten Coast Rocks)” and it’s washed up on the shores of Franklin County.
More than 500 people have joined the Facebook page, and more and more each day are becoming either artists of these miniatures, or collectors obsessed with pretty objects.
On window sills, in dirt, behind trees, and most every imaginable place, the decorated shells can be found hidden throughout Apalachicola, and Eastpoint and further reaches of the county.
Joyce Estes at Sea Oats Galley on St. George Island, has offered a marketing touch, offering a special gift to those who bring the ones she’s done into her store.
And, according to Ginger Conrad, the project’s catalyst from the start, there’s likely to be more such interplays with businesses and attractions.
Primarily, though, it’s all a game, especially popular with vacationing kids or those locals who want to make the most of their summer pursuits.
Conrad first brought the idea to Franklin County after being on a vacation to St. Simons Island, Georgia, where she noticed kids rushing around to find rocks and inquiring of their mother what was going on. In Tallahassee they paint rocks as well, and Conrad thought Franklin County might want to try a variation on a theme.
She shared her thoughts with Apalachicola Chamber of Commerce Director John Solomon, and a star, actually a painted shell, was born.
“John just took the idea and ran with it,” said Conrad.
On June 1, Solomon put up a Facebook page, which has since drawn more than 500 members, and got involved personally with his daugher Reagan. He and at least a dozen artists started making shells, and that pursuit is exploding as well, as kids and their parents are joining in the fun, including Krystal Shuler Hernandez and son Ezra, Claire Sanders Teat and son Dalton, Steve and Danielle James and daughter Shaylee, Richard and Sissy Smith, Janelle Paul, Le Ann and Bobby Carroll, and their kids and grandkids, and the list is growing.
The idea is hide the shells around the county, and offer clues on the Facebook page to help find them. The kids can keep them, or re-hide them, or trade them, anything except throw them at their siblings.
The idea is spreading geographically from outside Apalachicola as well, as the Red Pirate in Eastpoint, and both lighthouses have become sites.
So if you see a shell, be sure to go to Facebook and report it. Or rehide it. Or keep it.
It’s all for fun.