At this quinceañera, seniors in Elgin get their coming-of-age party again, or for the first time
All eyes were on Linda Maldonado, wearing a shiny silver dress and an even shinier tiara with a sparkling "15" in the middle, as she showed her moves on the dance floor.
If you've ever been to one, it was a typical quinceañera scene. The difference is that Maldonado is 72 years old and uses a walker.
Maldonado joined about 75 other older adults Wednesday during a quinceañera celebration organized by the Elgin Police Department and Senior Services Associates in Elgin.
"Last year, we decided to start doing more multicultural events for our seniors," said Maria Borrero, community outreach specialist with the department. "Quinceañeras are typically coming-of-age parties for girls in Latin American families."
This one took coming-of-age to a whole new level.
"I know some of our seniors in that culture didn't get to experience one," she said. "And others probably don't know much about it, so our goal is to have some fun and expose them a little bit more to the culture."
Maldonado was one of two women who raised their hands when asked if they had a quinceañera when they turned 15.
"Mine was small," she said. "People didn't do too much then. But I had a dress, and I had a crown. We had a party."
Pretty much like Wednesday, right down to the crown.
"My daughter, who is 40 now, wore this tiara for her quinceañera, and so did her daughters," Maldonado said. "Now it's a family tradition, so I figured I should wear it."
Senior Services Associates activity coordinator Minnie Vasquez said the group did a similar event about five years ago and that doing it again fit into the goal of bringing seniors of different cultures in Elgin together.
"We have plans to celebrate Filipino heritage, Oktoberfest, a South Asian event, LGBTQ, Black American history," she said. "We want to bring all our seniors together and bring the best out of them."
The bilingual event featured a traditional Mexican lunch, including tres leches cake for dessert. There also was a performance of traditional Mexican dance by Folkloric Dance Group Quetzali.
The highlight was a fashion show to crown the day's quinceañera.
After nearly 20 contestants showed their stuff, Maria Antonia Hernandez, 75, was proclaimed the winner. Hers was the other hand raised by someone who had a quinceañera.
"Never in my life did I think I would reach 75," she said. "I love this one as much as the first one."