Quinceañera celebrates party after her family lost home in Santa Rosa’s wildfires

Milagros Gomez
Written by Milagros Gomez


Dayrén Torres finally celebrated her quinceañera three months after its intended date. The October wildfires in Santa Rosa turned her house into ashes, displacing her and her family to live in a mobile home camp while destroying her teenage dreams of ever wearing a quinceañera dress.

It was her mother’s effort towards fulfilling her daughter’s dream what brought the community in Sonoma County together in a collaborative effort to help them celebrate a quinceañera in mid-February at Sebastopol Community Center.

According to Mexican traditions, a quinceañera is a commemoration of a young girl leaving her childhood behind and transitioning into a woman, celebrated among family and friends.

Torres, who celebrated her 15th birthday in November —with commemorative items turned into ashes— said that the fire that destroyed thousands of houses in Northern California, also turned her dreams into smoke. The becoming of a woman was a drastic awakening for her as she saw her family go through financial and emotional distress after losing everything they had.

“Ever since I was little all I ever wanted to have was my quinceañera, but on that day of the fires all that came to my mind was that I had lost everything and that my family and I had no longer a place to call home,” Torres said.

As the family returned to the site where their home once stood, they were brought to tears when they found particular items that provided them with a sense of comfort and a sign of hope, Torres recalled an afternoon while sitting in the small dining room of the mobile home she shares with her sister and a family’s friend, in a temporary RV camp next to Sonoma County Fairgrounds.

Some of those saved objects included an intact porcelain plate, a gold necklace with the image of the Virgin Mary, a burnt book that read the line “the sun will shine on a new day” and a quinceañera invitation in the form of a vinyl record that was partially burnt —they had acquired up to 100 vinyl records to make 50s-inspired invitations— with the title of the album being ‘Back Home Again’ which provided the family with a sense of strength for the future, explained Torres’ mother, Daysi Carreño.

As the family attended events for residents who had lost their home in the Coffey Park neighborhood, Carreño decided to upload a picture to Facebook of Torres with a quinceañera dress on and her older sister in the place where their house was consumed by flames. The image caught the attention of several Sonoma County business owners, such as Wine Country Tents and Events, Bill Sawhney Photography, Sophia’s Hair Salon, Ballet Folklorico Netzahualcoyotl among others that were all willing to collaborate to help make Torres’ dream come true.

Carreño and her husband Carlos Torres decided to continue the plans for the quinceañera by the beginning of the year, scheduled for February 10. When she began to contact the suppliers scheduled for the celebration, they began to surprise her by offering their services for free or at a discount rate because they understood the difficult times that the family had gone through, Carreño said.

“It was all a collaborative effort. From the catering donated by Ballet Folklorico Netzahualcoyotl to the free hair and make-up provided by Sophia’s Hair Salon, to the table draping and decoration by Wine Country Tents and Events,” Carreño said. “We could not feel more blessed. None of this was planned, things happened as people began to offer their help.”

As the date of the party approached, Torres prepared to do more than just celebrate with her guests, but to perform her interpretation of the song ‘Temporary Home’ by Carrie Underwood, a song’s lyrics that due to her situation she related to.

“While there were obstacles to get here, I am thankful for all the help that I received from the community, which served as a reminder to acknowledge that home is where your family is and I know I am home,” Torres said.

Noticias y eventos desde la región vinícola del norte de California para la comunidad latina.

Posted by La Prensa Sonoma on Wednesday, February 7, 2018

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Reach La Prensa Sonoma’s Editor Ricardo Ibarra at 707-526-8501 or email ricardo.ibarra@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ricardibarra.

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