Need a reason to smile? Look down while walking around downtown Bangor and check out how members of the community are using rocks to bring cheer.

Up Beat is a new section of the Bangor Daily News dedicated to uplifting stories. Look for tales of people helping people and things that will make you smile.

Sometimes it’s the little things that can bring the biggest smiles — you just need to know where to look. For example, cast your eyes downward while walking around Downtown Bangor and you might see a variety of brightly painted rocks and stones.

Turns out, there are quite a few of them scattered around and it’s pretty hard not to see them once the hunt for them is on. Here are just a few that are currently brightening up Downtown Bangor.

While the rocks are brightening days now during the time of social distancing, they aren’t new to Bangor — or Maine. For several years they have been popping up around the city and in other local communities like Bucksport, where the town council dedicated a tree on a local walking path to the project. Nationally, there’s also a movement called The Kindness Rocks Project that began in 2015 and has spread to cities and towns across the country.

The idea is pretty simple — find a rock, paint a message and/or design on the rock and then leave it somewhere for folks to find. If painting the rocks is half the fun, the other half is looking for and finding them. They are easy to spot with their bright colors contrasting with the more earth tones of the curbs, sidewalks, other paved spots and even urban tree stumps on which they are often placed.

Here are some of our favorites recently spotted around Downtown Bangor.

Who doesn’t want to be told they are “pawsome”? This rock gets the sentiment across with a written message and a line drawing of a very happy — and awesome — looking dog.

This tree stump in front of The Phoenix Building got upscaled with a brightly designed rock on top and one at its base urging passersby to make a wish.

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Just in case it gets lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life, here’s a rock that is a reminder of the importance of a smile.

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Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that meandering while lost in thought or dreaming of future plans is a great way to spend some time during the day.

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These rocks’ simple messages can never be seen or said enough.

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This rock reminds us that when done with love, even small actions can have huge impacts.

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Some of the rocks reflect current events by asking people to stay indoors and practice social distancing to help control the spread of COVID-19. In one case it’s a festive play on words complete with glitter.

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Another rock suggests the alternative to maintaining social distance by staying at home is far out — as in outer space.

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When people find rocks, they are encouraged to snap a photo or selfie with it and post on social media. The rocks can be kept, passed along to others or even rehidden elsewhere. Some rock fans make a game out of finding a rock in one town and bringing it to a different town or even to another state and placing it outdoors for others to find. Have you found one you’ve loved?

Do you know of an uplifting story in Maine? Bangor Daily News Features writer Julia Bayly is on the lookout for Up Beat stories of people, places or things that bring smiles and laughter to your day. Her email address is

Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.