Chances are, if you drive down Buddington Road in Shelton often, you’re familiar with the rock that one resident paints and repaints to celebrate the holidays.
Shelton resident David Cole is a family man who loves his grandchildren. He loves them so much, he decided to paint a rock outside of his home to look like a jack o’lantern because he thought they’d enjoy it for Halloween. That was six years ago.
Little did Cole know, years after beginning to paint the rock, Shelton residents would begin to appreciate the creativity.
“It all began one day when I was cleaning out my garage and found a can of orange paint,” said Cole. “I knew I couldn’t throw it away in the trash so I asked myself, ‘what am I going to do with this?’ It was October so I decided to get creative because my grandkids were living in town at the time and I thought they’d get a kick out of it. When Halloween was over I had to get rid of the pumpkin look so I painted it something for Veterans Day, which is really what got me started.”
In the years following, Cole painted designs for Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, New Years, Mother’s and Father’s Day. He said the tradition has become a hobby of his which he has no plans of stopping any time soon.
“People stop when they see me working out there on a new design. They send me letters too. I got a letter that was addressed to ‘the Rock Artist’,” said Cole jokingly. “I am not an artist. I told them, I’m a rock painter.”
The self proclaimed “rock painter” most recently received a letter from a resident who loved the variety of rock designs so much, that they took photos of the displays for months in order to combine them for a larger photo which they included in an envelope left in Cole’s mailbox.
“I haven’t gotten any negative comments,” said Cole. “No one has ever asked me when I’m going to stop and I haven’t thought of stopping yet.”
He said after years of painting, he doesn’t have any idea which design is his favorite, but loves the fact that the tradition now is something his family participates in.
“Most of the time it’s me who paints the rock, but If the quality looks like it got a lot better, the chances are my son did it,” said Cole. “He’s the one who painted what you see out there now. He paints murals, does graphic design, and is actually working for a set for a play at the Christian Heritage school.”
Although Cole said it’d be difficult to narrow his choice down to his favorite design that he’s painted, he recalls one Thanksgiving design that he especially enjoyed creating.
“I remember one Thanksgiving where I painted a turkey that I thought came out fairly well. I drew it so it was holding a sign that said, ‘Eat ham.’ I thought it was funny at least,” said Cole.
He said he avoids painting anything too controversial because of where the tradition originated.
“I try to make it light with no heavy political statements because it’s supposed to be fun,” said Cole. “It’s supposed to be for kids, they’re the one who get a kick out of it. I remember one time a school bus stopped just so all of the students could see what I painted. I think there’s a time and a place to make political statements, not my outdoor display.”