Imagine spending your 15th birthday being treated like a princess.
What if the celebration also included a beautiful white gown, a makeover and other gifts, including a new laptop? Throw in a celebrity escort and, oh, did we mention that the party would be in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle at the "Happiest Place on Earth"?
This is what happened to Buhach Colony High School freshman Brenda Prado, along with Kassandra Hernandez from Galt High School. They were two of 15 lucky girls from throughout the United States and Puerto Rico who won dream quinceañeras in Disneyland.
As winners of the "My Dream Quinceañera" contest, they got to have their quinceañeras -- coming-of-age parties -- at Disneyland on April 24.
A quinceañera party is a traditional celebration in Mexican culture, held when a girl turns 15 and officially becomes a young adult. The parties usually feature a religious ceremony, along with a party, dancing, a formal dress, and other traditions. These parties can be similar to wedding celebrations and can be a major expense for a girl's family.
Both Kassandra and Brenda were lucky enough to win free trips for eight to Disneyland for their quinceañeras. The girls found out about the contest on television.
"It was on a commercial on the Spanish channel," said Kassandra. "I wrote them a letter about my family and how they probably couldn't afford (my quinceañera.)"
Kassandra did not know she had won until sponsors surprised her by showing up at her doorstep.
"I was in shock. I couldn't believe it, and I was, like, 'Sorry, guys, you've got the wrong door.' I never win anything," she said.
Brenda wrote a letter, too. Then she got a phone call.
"They called me for an interview in Fresno (after they got) my letter about my good grades, honors, and my dream of my quinceañera at Disneyland," she said.
Brenda found herself one of five girls at the Fresno interview. After they spoke to all five girls, they announced on television that Brenda was the winner.
"I was surprised and happy," she said. "I couldn't believe it, though."
After learning they had won, Kassandra and Brenda were invited to David's Bridal in Modesto to pick out their special dresses. The store also gave them their choice of accessories and shoes.
When the time came for the party, each winner and her guests flew to Southern California, where they stayed three days in the Disneyland Hotel.
"On the way over, I was nervous," Brenda said, "but it ended up being wonderful."
The celebration was set up by the castle and featured Disney characters. Traditionally, the girl having the quinceañera has an escort. A special surprise for all the quinceanera winners was that each had a famous actor or singer there to escort them. Kassandra's escort was actor and singer Rogelio Martinez, and Brenda's escort was singer Yesenia Flores.
Later, the girls went to a dinner party in Disneyland with their escorts. They also received several gifts from Disney.
"They gave me a laptop and a lot of smaller items (like a personalized camera) from Disneyland," said Kassandra.
Besides the actual quinceañera party at the castle, the girls got special treatment, such as being able to go to the head of the lines for all the rides. Kassandra and Brenda both agreed that their quinceañeras were amazing.
"It was more than I (ever) expected," Brenda said.
Katie Mussman is a senior at Davis High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom journalism program.