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The Coronavirus Canceled Our Quinceañera

5:35 PM PDT on June 10, 2020

[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]hen my aunt started planning her daughter’s quinceañera last year she never imagined a disease would get in the way—until coronavirus entered the picture.

Sitting in their living room, three days before the big event, my aunt Anna Medina received a call from the banquet hall manager telling them the event was to be canceled. Anna and her daughter Andrea were devastated.

“Her little face was so sad,” said my aunt when she told Andrea her party had to be postponed. With puffy eyes, they Facetimed my family and broke the news to us. The quinceañera was officially canceled; she would have to call the 150 attendees she had already invited and advise them to stay home. This was before the seriousness of the pandemic was embraced by the US and the mandatory stay-at-home orders started to be issued around the country. 

My aunt did not think the virus would affect Andrea’s party, like many others did not anticipate it ruining their plans for the last two months. Andrea’s quinceañera was actually supposed to be last year, but my aunt had to have knee surgery after months of constant pain. In some cases, families have to postpone quinceañera’s a year due to financial issues because it can be quite expensive and time-consuming. This is not the first case of a quinceañera being canceled due to the virus, either. LA Times reported this also happening among other Latino families back in March.  

My family's unused centerpieces.

A quinceañera nowadays checks out at anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 when all things are said and done. The cost can depend on the venue, how many guests are invited, and other details such as food, entertainment, and flower arrangements. Quinceañeras are an important event and tradition for Latino communities because it celebrates a girl’s passage from girlhood to womanhood at the age of 15. For my aunt, it was important to give Andrea this opportunity since her two older sisters had parties, and because when she was little, her parents could not afford to throw her a quinceañera.

“We were really stressed out about calling people to tell them it was canceled,” said my aunt, “But in the end, our safety is more important.”

Her parents—my grandparents—had six daughters and could not throw them all big parties. So my aunt promised herself she would give her daughters that. After the phone call from the banquet hall manager, my aunt looked around her living room and saw the centerpieces, glassware for the dessert table, candy and a dozen alcohol bottles staring back at her. All the things she had bought and prepared for Andrea’s quinceañera were left as reminders that the party had been canceled.

Our family from Nebraska were already on their way to California and my grandparents had arrived from Mexico days before the party was canceled. The COVID-19 cases were already rising and striking fear into the public, but for Latino families, almost nothing can get in the way of being together to celebrate momentous occasions such as a quinceañera. The exception is, of course, coronavirus. 

We will wait however long we need to drink, eat, celebrate my prima Andrea becoming a woman, and dance along to Caballo Dorado with my family.

My aunt was angry and upset at the situation but in the end, she understood that she made the right decision. If it went on, she would have felt guilty if someone got sick because of her party. Such as in Houston, where a couple decided to host an anniversary party of fewer than 10 people and the husband contracted the virus.

People who are not following the requirements set by the government are why the virus is spreading and although things may appear a little more relaxed now and people are starting to congregate again, there is no hiding this major risk. Yes, the quinceañera was canceled but it could have had a different ending. 

Even though the coronavirus ruined my family’s plans yet again, my aunt and Andrea are hopeful that the celebration, whenever it happens, will just be all the more worthwhile for my family. We will wait however long we need to drink, eat, celebrate my prima Andrea becoming a woman, and dance along to Caballo Dorado with my family.

“We were really stressed out about calling people to tell them it was canceled,” said my aunt, “But in the end, our safety is more important.”

This story was written by a student at Cal State Northridge under the guidance of Daniela Gerson as part of L.A. Taco’s longstanding commitment to being a platform available to first-time writers. Expect more engaging stories from new voices in journalism on a weekly basis.

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