Sydney the ‘Stay Safe’ snake, was created in Readhead Park, South Shields, in June, by six-year-old Mortimer Primary School pupil Lucille Reed.
The snake, which was inspired by other similar projects in the area, saw school children leave hand-painted stones and uplifting messages to each other - as a way of keeping in touch while the schools are closed due to the pandemic.
Almost 300 stones had been added by local families, but on Tuesday, July 7 over 250 of them suddenly went missing over night.
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Lucille and her mum Georgia Reed, searched everywhere in the park but say they were “nowhere to be seen”.
"I had so many messages from people saying how sad it is,” said Georgia, 45.
Residents were quick to respond and after Georgia and Lucille made a new head, more than 80 stones were replaced the next day.
On Sunday, July 12 the Friends of Readhead Park group organised a community event to rebuild Sydney, while safely following social distancing guidelines.
Paints and equipment were donated and dozens of families turned up to take part, decorating hundreds of new stones.
And while litter-picking, one of the volunteers discovered a pile of the missing stones which had been half-buried – meaning around 400 stones are now snaking their way around Readhead Park.
Georgia said: “The event went really well. There was a real buzz about the park and it was nice to see so many people from the surrounding area getting involved.
"The most important thing is that we found the stones and Sydney the Snake is now longer than ever with around 400 all together.”
Chair of the Friends group and Westoe Ward Councillor, Glenn Thompson, who organised the event, commented: “There was a great turn out of families, and lots of new stones were really well made by the kids – and some of the adults.
“I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who donated the materials to make this happen.”