Jitters and excitement set in as Esperanza Buentello waits in a room backstage to make her grand entrance at her rescheduled quinceañera.

“I feel like I’m having déjà vu,” her mother, Melissa Buentello, says over the microphone before she proudly introduces her daughter escorted by her two brothers, Kaiser and Nicholas George.

Esperanza emerges, floating effortlessly across the dance floor of the Victoria Community Center to applause from family and friends.

After Esperanza’s quinceañera was cut short in June because of a power outage, her family’s neighbor, Clara Ramos, stepped in to help organize another reception so Esperanza could have a proper quinceañera.

She rallied together members of the community, including a nail technician, hairdresser and makeup artist, to donate their time and help reduce costs so the Buentello family could finish the initial event.

Esperanza spent the morning getting pampered at Bazar Cuts with Azeria Flores, who did Esperanza’s nails, and Sylvia De La Garza, who curled her hair, while her family members spent the morning decorating tables at the Victoria Community Center.

“It’s moments like these that make me love my job,” Sylvia De La Garza said to Esperanza as she spun her around in her chair to show her the finished hairstyle, iridescent crown and all.

Melissa Buentello said she and her husband spent about two years planning and saving for the original quinceañera, which cost them thousands of dollars. A big reason why she wanted to make her daughter’s birthday so special, aside from Esperanza being her only daughter, is she never had a birthday to herself growing up. Melissa is one of nine siblings and shares her June birthday with two other siblings.

“I still remember the birthday song with all of our names!” Melissa exclaimed, laughing.

A quinceañera is an important coming-of-age celebration that signifies a young girl’s readiness to enter womanhood. It also represents devotion to faith and is an important milestone in the Hispanic culture, according to Esperanza. When the power went out on her first celebration, they had just finished dinner and the reception had not really begun. By about 9 p.m., the group was told they needed to leave because it was unsafe for that many people to be there without the power. The cake melted in the heat, and the night didn’t end like they expected.

The Buentello family has been amazed by the community’s support to help them reschedule a second event, which picked up where the last one left off. Esperanza said she is grateful to everyone who donated their time to give her a second chance to celebrate the important occasion.

“I am just dazzled,” Esperanza says about receiving help from members of the community for her quinceañera redo. “I’m very amazed and grateful.”

Emree Weaver is the Chief Photographer at the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6584 or eweaver@vicad.com.

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