Pets bring Halloween spirit to the elderly


Mariela Ramirez

Family and pets show off their costumes before the parade.

Mariela Ramirez, Staff Writer

At Atria, a senior living community in Burlingame, the residents spent Halloween watching a pet parade to celebrate the holiday.

The main purpose of this event is to create social connections between animals and community members.

“Mental, emotional, and physical benefits are often experienced when seniors are around animals,” said Cynthia Hovorka, an employee at Atria.

Hovorka leads numerous creative expression classes at Atria and is the host of this year’s pet parade.

“Pets are family members, and including them in activities is a great way to show our appreciation for what they do,” Hovorka said.

While the animals were satisfied by the treats, the residents were pleased with the outcome of the evening. Patricia Statten*, a 91-year-old resident, was particularly delighted by the social element of the event.

“It was very lively and there was high energy. Due to the [event’s small] size, we were able to meet each sweet pet and its owner,” Statten said.

Family members of the community residents were also invited to participate in the event.

“My favorite part about today is seeing the different animals in the funny costumes and getting to spend time with my family,” said Sadie Smith, the niece of a community resident.

Neighbors can find out about other pet-related events like the parade on Evensi, the website Atria used to promote the event.

“We are actively seeking more pet-related programs for our seniors,” Hovorka said.

This year, some residents engaged in a cookie-decorating activity, while others discussed how different Halloween was for them compared to today’s standards.

“Trick-or-treating was not popular when we were young. We would get dressed up, but the evening was spent with siblings or close friends,” Statten said.

With the Halloween season coming to an end, many are already thinking about plans for next year.

“I will definitely do this event next Halloween, so everyone can hang out with the pets,” Hovorka said.

*Name altered per individual’s request