MAPLEWOOD, NJ - If you were at the Maplewood Senior Center on Wednesday - which happened to be Valentine's Day - you would have seen the somewhat unusual sight of an alpaca. Alfalfa the Alpaca to be precise.
The visit from Alfalfa was the first in the "creature comfort" series from the Maplewood Recreation Department.
Maplewood Recreation Director Melissa Mancuso explained that the morning began with a Senior Club Meeting and healthy breakfast bar, and by 11 a.m., all were ready to greet their furry visitor.
"Alfalfa took one look at our friendly seniors and knew he spent his Valentine’s Day in the right place," shared Mancuso. Alfalfa's handler, Jacqueline, spoke to everyone about the therapeutic effect of petting and caring for animals and anyone interested got to pet the ultra soft coat and offer a snack to the alpaca, said Mancuso.
Mancuso added that "everyone learned a lot about both therapy animals, and alpacas in general. After the presentation was over, the floor was open for questions and they flooded in. Everyone needed to know more about Alfalfa, and we learned they originate in Peru and their teeth never stop growing so they see a dentist, amongst other fun facts."
Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca then led Alfalfa through the senior center, posing for pictures and getting many snacks and pets. "Overall it made for a lot of smiles and the title 'creature comforts' rang true for the opener of the series," said Mancuso.
The next Creature Comforts session will be held at 11 a.m. on March 5, with a focus on dogs. Seniors will get to meet therapy pooches and learn how they help heal humans of all ages, shared Mancuso. Afterwards, there will be lunch and the movie “Must Love Dogs” starring Diane Lane and John Cusack will be shown.
The March 5 event is free, but pre-registration is required by calling 973.763.0750 or by registering online at https://maplewood.recdesk.com/community/program.
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