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Coming of age with style, and at a cost

  • Diana Cruz, 15, left, and Leslie Vargas, 14, take a photo of themselves before a fashion show during QuinceaƱera Expo 2013 at the Mary Agatha Furth Center in Windsor, Calif. (CONNER JAY / PRESS DEMOCRAT)

Gloria Figueroa peeked from behind a curtain before stepping onstage, a vision in a sea green quinceañera dress with its puffy tulle skirt that swayed like ocean waves.

At 13 years old, it's not quite time for Figueroa's quinceañera. But she got to feel like a princess for a day by modeling the dress for a small crowd at the Mary Agatha Furth Center in Windsor on Sunday.

“I almost cried,” said Gloria's mother, Maria Figueroa of Windsor, after her daughter's modeling performance.

Quinceanera Expo 2013

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The Quinceañera Expo was organized by BreNotas Magazine, a Latino lifestyle publication based in Santa Rosa. It catered to the teens and their families who are planning the coming-of-age celebration popular on 15th birthdays.

Uriel Brena, CEO if BreNotas Magazine, started the events three years ago when he noticed that many North Bay residents were making trips down to San Jose to shop for the big event. He thought he could fill a niche in the North Bay, with the magazine featuring local vendors and several events per year.

“It's really a growing market,” Brena said. “People are spending $25,000 to $30,000. It's the same as a wedding.”

Indeed, the expense of caterers, a venue to hold a few hundred friends and a band or a DJ to keep everyone entertained adds up quickly, along with a choreographer who often is hired to drum up dance routines.

A quinceañera dress alone can range in price from $400 to $7,000, but on average, many people pay around $1,200, Brena said.

To make it happen, members of the extended family often chip in for the cost.

“One uncle brings the cake, the other uncle pays for the limo,” Brena said.

Godparents also help with the cost, said Linda Sanchez of Windsor, whose 14-year-old daughter was planning a quinceañera and modeling in the show.

“It's like planning a wedding — financially, stressfully, the venue, everything,” Sanchez said. “It's always been like that. Even in Mexico. It's a really big deal.”

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