At sunrise, workers in hard hats arrived in Downtown Santa Ana on Wednesday to find a brand-new white quinceañera dress, accented by silver and gold embroidery, standing in the middle of an open-air, dirt construction trench.
The area’s Fourth Street had been torn open so tracks for the long-awaited OC Streetcar could be laid in the dirt.
The dress cost around $1,200 to make, said its maker, Valentin Martinez, the 25-year owner of Nino’s Bridal Couture nearby, who erected it on a mannequin inside the trench while the sky was still dark.
He said he’d normally sell it at $1,500 to turn a profit.
But there’s not much business around La Cuatro these days.
For two months, streetcar construction overseen by the county’s transit agency, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), has squeezed the pedestrian paths and vehicle traffic that many of the stores along this downtown road rely on.
The dust might dirty it, the light could damage it, yet Martinez argued few the dress would otherwise go unpurchased, with so people currently bothering to navigate what’s become a hard-to-traverse OC Streetcar construction zone over the area.
So, Martinez’s dress had a different use that morning — no longer something to be worn, but a message to be sent.