Several lucky Latina foster youth were treated Saturday to a fairytale dream come true -- a Quinceañera, a traditional Latin-American 15th birthday celebration that honors a girl's coming of age.
Eight girls and their families enjoyed food, music and dancing at the Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Downtown Los Angeles to celebrate their transformation from childhood to young adulthood.
"This day is a very special moment for me," said Jessica Hernandez, 17, who celebrated her Quinceañera. "I didn’t have my celebration for certain situations that passed toward me, so I’m glad, and I’m really, really happy that this dream came true."
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The event was held to raise awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families to support Latino foster youth in Los Angeles County. It was sponsored by the LA County Department of Children and Family Services, Telemundo, NBC4's sister station, and Quinceanera.com, an online resource for Quinceañera celebrations.
"This is a fantastic event for eight girls, so they're having a Quinceañera celebration," said Philip Browning of the LA County Department of Children and Family Services.
The young women got to enjoy a Quinceañera's traditional activities, such as waltzing with their chambelanes, or escorts, and the presentation of the dolls, a symbolic moment that represents them leaving behind their childhoods.
Several members of the county were present to address the young women and their families, including Martha de la Torre, founder of Quinceanera.com; radio personality Freddy Rivera; radio and television host Stephanie Himonidis; and actor Fernando Noriega.