Earning the title of Polish Town Queen was a dream come true for Riverhead’s Lilly Whitehead.
Lilly, 16, was officially crowned the title as the 2018 Queen Saturday afternoon at Little Birchwood in Polish Town. Stephanie Clark, the 2016 Queen, was on hand to crown Lilly along with members of the Polish Town Civic Association.
Polish heritage has been a big part of the Riverhead High School junior’s life. Her grandfather Martin “Sonny” Zaneski was a former president of the Polish Town Civic Association and Lilly said it would have been his dream to see one of his granddaughters become queen while he was still alive.
This year’s Polish Town Fair and Festival is scheduled for Aug. 18-19.
After being crowned her title, the News-Review caught up with Lilly for a fast chat:
Q: What does it mean to you to carry on this tradition as Polish Town Queen?
A: I think it meant a lot to my family. My grandfather when he was alive would have wanted to see this. He really loved his Polish heritage. We incorporate a lot of Polish heritages into our family.
Q: What are some of the Polish traditions in your family?
A: My grandmother, my babcia, will bless herself in Polish if she sees one of her grandchildren doing something controversial. We incorporate Polish food into holiday meals and we always sing a celebration song, “Sto lat,” for people’s birthdays.
Q: Would you often attend the Polish Town Fair when you were younger?
A: Every year I went to the fair. I was actually a Polish dancer one year and I partook in the wedding.
Q: What did you have to do to prepare for the crowning?
A: I had to write an essay on why I thought I should become Polish Town Queen. I wrote about my culture, I wrote about my mom, my grandfather. One thing I didn’t mention was my middle name, which is Basia, which is a rough translation of Barbara in Polish. We also had to write about our future and any extra curricular activities that we are in.
Q: What will your responsibilities entail?
A: I know I have to host the Polish Town Fair, the part where you introduce everyone and I walk around a bit. I have to partake in things in the future, like crowning the next Polish Town queen, which I look forward to.”
Photo caption: 2018 Polish Town Queen Lilly Whitehead poses Saturday alongside Kay Davis, president of the Polish Town Civic Association. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)