At North Babylon High School’s homecoming parade on Saturday, the homecoming queen did not walk with her king. Instead, she marched with two little princesses.
Aaliyah Hunter, 17, held hands with her nieces — Madison, 5, and M’Kayla, 10 — as they headed down Deer Park Avenue during the homecoming festivities. The girls smiled and waved to the crowd, and Hunter handed out beads with the school’s Bulldog mascot on them as they passed other young girls along the way.
Hunter said she didn’t expect to be nominated for homecoming queen.
“I don’t consider myself to be part of the popular crew,” she said. “So when I found out I was nominated, they called me out on the loudspeaker. I guess more people had nominated me than I thought. I put a picture up and asked people to vote for me, and then [they] showed up and they did it.”
Her homecoming king, Anthony Palumbo, walked the parade route with the marching band. But Hunter’s whole family showed up for the celebration, so she knew she wouldn’t be walking alone.
“I had an extra crown so I was like, ‘Well, let me give one to one of them,” Hunter said, smiling at her nieces. “[Madison] had her headband on so I was like, ‘Well that’s her crown right there!’”
While reflecting on her stroll with the two little princesses, she added, “I thought it would be nice and that it would get more people’s attention.”
Back at the high school following the parade, Hunter was lovingly bombarded by the rest of her family members. Her older sister ran up to her, hugging her and exclaiming, “Is that the homecoming queen? Can I have your autograph?”
Hunter's 4-year-old nephew Noah made an appearance as well, with his hair painted North Babylon blue just for the occasion.
Marion, Hunter's mother, looked on at her family and beamed.
“[Aaliyah] deserves it,” she said. “She’s a good girl. So when she got nominated I was really, really happy. And when they told me she won, I was ecstatic.”
After graduation, Hunter hopes to attend John Jay College of Criminal Justice or St. John’s University. But for the moment, she was celebrating with her loved ones at the football game.
“I have a big family and they always show up to everything, so I expected them to come,” she said with a laugh.
Hunter said she enjoyed being in the spotlight for the day. While thinking about what she had been looking forward to the most about homecoming, she said, “Just to be noticed, I guess, because I’m not a popular person. So to just to be noticed and have a nice time.”
“And being the queen!” her mother added.