Quinceañeras are, by design, communal celebrations: The event is usually surrounded by a sprawling court of friends, sometimes there’s a church service, and the party often involves the whole family and even the whole neighborhood. Given all that, it’s pretty clear why such traditions are kind of a non-starter during the pandemic—but one family found a way to carry out the festivities while respecting the social distancing precautions being observed around the country.
Xochitl Rodriguez had already spent tons of time shopping for her gown and planning her quinceañera before stay-at-home orders hit her home of San Antonio. According to NBC Latino, her family had organized both a mass and a detailed reception.
It looked like everything would have to be canceled and the day Rodriguez had dreamed about would just have to wait. But, with a bit of ingenuity, Rodriguez’s mom, Kristie, and her husband Jimmy still managed to surprise the birthday girl by coming up with the brilliant idea of a “drive-by” quinceañera, with friends and family members singing “Las Mañanitas” to Rodriguez from their cars and the from the sidewalk.
“We had blown up the balloons the night before and had kept them in the garage and then kind of made the mad dash to decorate the yard when it was time for her to go outside,” Kristie said.
They managed to keep the idea from Xochitl until the big moment came. Then, went outside and greeted her socially-distanced guests in her dress and her tiara. Instead of damas and chambelanes, the family pulled out some of Rodriguez’s old dolls and teddy bears and used them for a makeshift honor court.
She says she was completely thrilled to see all of the people she loved making an effort, despite difficulties, to make her feel special.
“I kind of lost hope of having anyone over or having a normal birthday where I can see my family,” she told NBC Latino. “I feel like my mom and my dad really made it special, trying to get the people that were closest to me.”