Tensions were high. It was round five, all tied up, as Pleasanton resident Karen Carnahan took aim.
Carnahan's granddaughter, Scarlett Roth, could only watch as her grandma's cornhole bag flew in the air and fell in as seamlessly as a three-pointer from Golden State Warrior Steph Curry.
As they both laughed and giggled, Carnahan told the Weekly that it was basic personal moments like that one that made her appreciative of the Pleasanton Senior Center for hosting events such as the Party on the Patio, where over 50 grandparents and grandchildren were able to enjoy games and activities together.
"I think it's the most important thing, because I can sit across the dinner table from her and there's nothing to say," Carnahan said.
"But this?" she said, referring to their intense cornhole match. "That's what she'll remember."
Carnahan said that the second annual event, which was held last week outside the Senior Center at the main hall patio, was a major step up from last year's as it had much more activities for kids and grandparents of all ages to enjoy.
"I think they have really worked hard to address all ages -- from the very mature child to the younger," she said. "And it's clean; it's wholesome."
The Party on the Patio on May 11 was put together by the city's recreation department and the Friends of Pleasanton Senior Center nonprofit organization as a way to celebrate the fact that the month of May is Older Americans Month.
Shawn Harris, recreation coordinator for the city of Pleasanton, told the Weekly that the event doubled in size compared to the first one last year. She said besides bringing different generations together, she also likes that it brings different cultures together.
She said one thing she likes to see is the grandparents being able to teach their grandchildren hands-on things like with the arts-and-crafts tables.
"I just think it's great to see everybody interacting and kind of just teaching each other a little bit of this, a little bit of that," Harris said.
Kara Yost, who started working at the Senior Center in October but had previously worked as a city staffer for 21 years, said that it was her first time attending this event and that she loved seeing all the different generations interacting and the high energy that day.
"I work with the seniors every day, but it's great to see them interacting with their grandchildren," Yost said.
Mary Jane Casper, board member at the Friends of Pleasanton Senior Center, told the Weekly that the organization had helped with the event last year with the goal of getting seniors together with their grandchildren.
"Everybody really, really enjoyed it," she said. "So we decided that we had to do it another time."
She said that one of the ways the nonprofit raises money for these events, other than donations from residents, was the organization's Friends Tree, which is a living art piece that is displayed at the center.
People purchase engraved "leaves and rocks" through the nonprofit so that they can memorialize someone they know or so that they can just show their general financial support.
She added that events like the Party on the Patio are important for bringing different generations together at the Senior Center so that they can learn more about the facility and be able to enjoy all that it offers to the entire community.
That theme of bringing together different generations was also something that many others at the event thought was very important.
"I think it's a good way to bring the community together (and) have the grandkids ... spend time with their grandmother, who they're super close with," said Nika May, who was there with her two daughters to visit their grandma. "It's so nice ... and my mother-in-law loves the Senior Center, so it's nice to see where she comes every week."
Zack Silva, Pleasanton recreation supervisor, told the Weekly that getting more people of different generations involved with the older community at the center was one thing that is basically nonexistent -- but that through Party on the Patio, that is slowly changing.
"We have a lot of seniors who come here and they socialize with each other. I think that one of those missing pieces is kind of socializing with the youth," Silva said.
"That was just a piece that wasn't happening here," Silva added. "I think senior centers are often seen as you know, a place for seniors to go and socialize and recreate ... this was kind of just one of those opportunities to kind of just expand on seniors' personal lives and kind of be able to share that with each other as well."
Apart from the free ice cream and popcorn, the event featured live turtle petting from the Alviso Adobe Community Park and several arts-and-crafts stations where people could build sandcastles and paint flower pots.
But one of the main attractions was beyond the gate of the main hall patio where the Livermore-Amador Valley Garden Club debuted its reimagined sensory garden.
The club, which is a nonprofit educational service organization, first opened the sensory garden -- located next to the Senior Center in Pleasanton's Centennial Park -- in the 1990s as a result of joint collaborative efforts from city staff, the Pleasanton Senior Center Task Force, the Park and Recreation Commission and the Pleasanton City Council at the time.
But after maintaining the garden for the past 30 years, Beth Clark, recording secretary at the garden club, told the Weekly that after some research the club decided that the garden had veered away from actually being a sensory garden.
"Last summer, we decided that we wanted to kind of step back and take a look at what we had here," she said.
So in the fall of 2022, club members began refreshing the garden with new plants that were purchased and grouped according to sensory themes while the old and tired plants were removed.
Members then added signs to the garden and installed plant tags to identify the plants.
Now, the garden consists of three raised beds and two large in-ground beds that are each labeled with a sign for its sensory theme such as visual, smell and touch.
Clark said that the club added the signs so that people are encouraged to interact with the garden rather than just walk through it.
"A lot of people have come through," she said regarding the people walking through during the Party on the Patio event. "So I think that us participating in this event makes it possible for people to learn about this garden."
But more importantly, she said it was a great way for the seniors -- who live around the center and frequently visit the garden -- to check out the new plants.
"We see lots and lots of seniors come through. Some come every day," Clark said. "Some have special plants that they like. So they really look forward to that experience."
Dolores Bengtson, longtime resident, public figure and member of the garden club, also told the Weekly that one thing that she appreciated that the club has done was how they brought in a wide variety of flowers to seniors who don't have the space for their own garden.
"They don't have places to grow flowers anymore, and many of them were gardeners," Bengtson said. "So it's been interesting to see some of them come by and say, 'Oh, yes, this is this, this is that.' I think that's one of the whole purposes, is to allow them to participate with the same beauty that they had around them when they lived in their own homes."
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