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Girls on the cusp of turning 15 strolled Sunday past tables laden with shiny brochures, pastry samples and centerpieces at the Hall of Flowers.

There were vendors to question about hiring a security guard or renting a limousine, photographers artfully advertising their services, and booths for dresses, makeup, music and food. Hundreds of people milled about at the Miss Quince y Novias Magazine Expo listening to bands and eyeing vendors they might want to use at their upcoming quinceañeras.

A quinceañera, or “quince,” is a coming-of-age party held for Latinas to celebrate their 15th birthday, and often involves a Mass and various rituals that signify reaching maturity, like changing from flat shoes to high heels or having a formal dance with one’s father. Like some modern “Sweet 16” parties or bar and bat mitzvahs, the parties can be elaborate, costing thousands of dollars.

Sunday’s free expo at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds was sponsored by Tacolist.com and California Bissness Magazine.

Among the bustling crowd at the expo was 14-year-old Mariana Patino, who will celebrate her quince Dec. 26 in Mexico, near Guanajuato.

She was at the expo with her mother, Rosa Patino, looking at dresses.

At first Patino wasn’t sure she even wanted to have a quince, but her mother had one — though much simpler than what Patino is planning — and she’s her family’s only daughter. After vacationing in Mexico in December, and seeing what other quinces looked like there, she was convinced.

“Seeing how fun they looked, that’s what made me want one, too,” said the Mark West Charter School eighth-grader.

Even though it’s in December, Mariana and her mother were at the expo to get a head start, looking at the dresses and decorations. The family will have a pastor from Mexico City come up, and Mariana wants a pastel color palette, but beyond that there’s much to be planned.

“It’s going to be very unique,” Mariana said. “That’s what we’re going for.”

Fourteen-year-olds Jocelyn Ortiz and Anali Espinoza also were at the expo, checking out dresses and decorations.

Anali’s quince is July 29. Her dress is set (pink-champagne colored with a full skirt) as is the food (fajitas) and the venue (Petaluma Fairgrounds), but she’s still hunting for someone to do her makeup.

Even though she’s wanted to have a quince since she was a kid, as the date got closer the Casa Grande High School freshman wasn’t so sure anymore.

“This year and last year have been really tight for my parents,” she said. “But my mom had a quince, so she really wants me to have one.”

Jocelyn, an eighth-grader at Hilliard Comstock Middle School, has more time before her quince date of Jan. 3, 2018. Her family is headed to Jalisco, Mexico for the event.

“I’ve been thinking about it since I was 12,” she said during an afternoon spent looking at dresses.

Her dad, she said, is excited for the event because her older sister didn’t want a quince.

“He didn’t have the chance with her,” Jocelyn said. “So I’m giving him that chance with me.”

You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 707-521-5205 or christi.warren@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @SeaWarren.

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