The coronavirus pandemic has canceled many events, but plans to bring fairytale-like celebrations to fruition came true for six Latina foster youth who celebrated their quinceañeras Saturday in Castaic.
Glitter, sequins, diamonds and shiny crowns all shone brightly as the teens strutted down the grass in their large ball gowns, making their way to a shaded portion of the Castaic Sports Complex parking lot, which hosted a celebratory car parade.
Saturday’s event marked the sixth annual quinceañera celebration by the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services and Quinceanera.com, which offers resources and party-planning content.
“Oftentimes, some of the things that I think others might take for granted are family traditions,” said Ginger Pryor, chief deputy director of Children and Family Services. “Things of that nature don’t always get to happen for young people in foster care. They might be in homes that have different cultures, so it’s important that we’re doing everything that we can to honor (traditions).”
A quinceañera is not just a 15th birthday, rather a traditional coming-of-age ritual in Latino communities that signifies the transition from childhood to young adulthood celebrated before a community with a religious blessing, a waltz, food and entertainment.
The county’s annual event aims to raise awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families in Spanish-speaking communities as DCFS’ system has “a significant population of Latino children,” said Pryor, who added it’s also about empowering women.
“It’s important for young girls to really walk strongly into their womanhood and know that and be able to see other women that look like them and know that they can achieve and do anything they put their minds to,” she said.
In true elegant form, the six quinceaneras, who donned their smiles behind clear face masks, waved as their foster families and friends honked and photographed them during the car parade led by two Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station patrol vehicles.
Before the celebration commenced, pastor Dan Broyles of Valencia Hills Community Church said a brief prayer as part of the traditional religious blessing.
The young women, whose last names DCFS asked not be shared, were presented before attendees and shared their career goals with the crowd: Brenda dreams of becoming a lawyer; Gabriela, a probation officer; Savannah, a K-9 law enforcement officer; Maribel, a professional singer; Christal, a forensics examiner; and Maria, an architect.