The heart-stopping rises and swift falls of roller coasters scream “Good times!” to Melissa Ponce. So when the 15-year-old was kicking around theme ideas for her quinceañera, the choice seemed obvious.
“I love the excitement of roller coasters and thrill rides, so I thought it would be unique to center my party around the fun, food, and rides of amusement parks,” Melissa explains.
To take her spectacular concept to soaring heights, she and her parents booked JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa and hired Reese Events Group to design, coordinate, and decorate the celebration. The San Antonio company’s senior event consultant Liza Martinez began planning, drawing inspiration from a field trip to Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
"My goal was to bring the fantastic atmosphere of the park into the hotel ballroom,” Liza says. “I wanted Melissa’s guests to experience the park’s lively energy, so I took photos of the rides to inspire the event’s design.”
Before her high-spirited birthday bash, Melissa attended a Mass in her honor at the historic Mission San José.
“We gave thanks and asked for blessings for her life,” says Melissa’s mother Lupita Cantu. “She is becoming a beautiful young lady, and her dad and I felt so proud to have our family and friends recognize this special occasion with us.”
Following the church ceremony, Melissa and her friends were whisked away to her soiree at the JW Marriott. The tulle ruffles of her bold red gown unfolded from the classic white Rolls-Royce as she stepped out and was met by 40 more besties who arrived by chartered shuttle.
The revelry began in the ballroom’s foyer where artists from Gunz-N-Hozez Airbrush painted “Enjoy the Ride” and “Melissa’s 15” on red-brimmed baseball caps and white t-shirts. Literally over-the-top, a man and woman strolling on towering stilts greeted amazed onlookers on their way to the ballroom.
“The entertainers’ vintage carnival costumes and interaction with the crowd created an eye-catching entrance,” Liza says.
Blazing red and glimmering gold hues animated the ballroom. The drops and turns of a roller coaster ice sculpture ran the length of the table of honor embellished with hundreds of red roses. A high-backed settee and white posh chairs accented with ornate gold trim provided royal seating for Melissa, her parents, and her sister.
At each guest table, crystalline horse carousels carved from ice rested atop beds of deep red roses and hydrangeas. Gold sequined linens, metallic sunburst chargers, red satin napkins, and menus embellished with a red glitter border decked the tables. Sheer white drapery surrounding the ballroom supplied a supple backdrop for the gold gobo light projections of Melissa’s name and “Admit One” amusement park ticket stubs.
Vivid eye candy appeared at every turn, but the showpiece was the whimsical amusement park-inspired cake boasting a descending roller coaster car on a wooden track, a rocky mountain with a train tunnel, a yellow whitewater raft, a giant box of popcorn, and a colossal salted pretzel. The Painted Cake topped the delectable sculpture with a tilting gondola cable car featuring Melissa’s name. Gold lights on two enormous circular stands representing revolving Ferris wheels twinkled behind the cake table, and a carousel of sweets prepared by The Painted Cake also offered carnival treats such as caramel apples, churros, and pastries shaped like hot dogs and popcorn. The desserts were arranged on trays set on wooden carousel horses.
“The realistic details of the cake and snacks were visual elements that brought a fanciful vibe to the event,” says Liza.
Flashing red and blue triangles electrified the LED dance floor as a dance troupe performed choreographed numbers for all 180 guests. Melissa then changed into a circus ringleader-inspired ensemble with black pants, a white shirt, and a red jacket sparkling with gold shoulder tassels and joined the group to share her own dancing and singing talents. In the background, a brilliant video screen exhibited a high-sloped roller coaster and a spinning Ferris wheel with dazzling multi-colored lights.
Showers of confetti festooned the dance floor when national pop artist Reed Deming surprised Melissa. Her star-struck wonder never faded as he took her hand and serenaded her.
The show continued as DJ Luna entertained guests who donned sunglasses, leis and beaded necklaces, glow sticks, and blowup guitars. To top off the night, Reese Events Group used a high-tech video screen to produce the effect of a fireworks extravaganza.
“From the blessing at the church to her dancing and singing, Melissa’s happiness shone all day long,” says the mother of the birthday girl. “Seeing my daughter’s glowing smile made all the work worthwhile.”
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