Green, white and red officially illumine Cinco de Mayo festivities. They replicate Mexico's national flag. But every splash on the color wheel, so long as it appears in its richest brilliance, spells Mexican party. So say Nancy Quintero and her mother, Maria Maldonado.
They should know. Quintero owns Q's Fiesta Place, a one-of-a-kind, 2-year-old party store; Maldonado is her sole employee. And as native Puerto Ricans, they share Mexico's Spanish heritage.
"Isn't it yellow, green and white?" Quintero, 49, asked her mother. "No, red," said Maldonado, 72, smiling.
"Well, for fiestas, all bright colors," Quintero acquiesced.
From the shop at 4030 Andy Pella Drive, across from the Forest Oaks post office, the duo is geared up to decorate myriad Cinco de Mayo celebrations during the coming weeks.
Piñatas come first to mind.
"They fly out the door," Quintero said.
Not only does a piñata dress up a social scene. It is a staple of Mexican parties.
A piñata parade is said to have distracted the occupying soldiers of the French stronghold at Puebla on May 5, 1862, enabling a much smaller Mexican revolutionary force to conquer the overlords, setting the stage for French eviction from Mexican territories.
With a patient and steady hand, Maldonado makes the popular star-shaped piñatas at Q's Fiesta Place. She first builds a papier mache sphere, then attaches cone-shaped points. With dexterity that comes from years of experience, Maldonado fashions dozens of crinkly puffs of colored tissue paper that blanket the entire construction.
A small hole in the top of the globe allows for the insertion of candy, tiny toys, miniature gifts and sometimes money. Once broken, a scramble for the goodies ensues.
Since Q's has built its reputation on originality, Quintero said, the business does not offer a donkey-shaped piñata. She leaves those to the chain stores.
"We want to be different," she said, "so we can be individualized. We don't like to compete with others."
Commercially crafted decor appropriate to Cinco de Mayo includes lacy pennant garlands for scene setting in yellow, purple, orange and green; novelty party favors, and tableware in a variety of colors.
While the selection draws customers from Mexican communities as far away as Orlando, most customers shop at Q's for its large selection of traditional supplies for wedding and baby showers; wedding receptions; christening, baptismal and first communion celebrations; birthdays, and anniversaries.
Mother and daughter design and make many of these accouterments, too.
Party givers frequently come into the shop with one purchase in mind, Quintero said, then are overwhelmed by the assortment of possibilities.
"So I end up decorating their whole party," she said.
Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]