HARLINGEN — There was just no stopping him.
Nick Peters, the Harlingen High School student known for running down the halls in a blueberry costume and developing new apps, was elected homecoming king Friday.
Pretty impressive in any case, even more so considering his memorial service is this afternoon. Nick Peters, always larger than life, is even bigger now, a week after he died of leukemia in Houston.
His memorial service will be held today at 5 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 321 E. Harrison Ave.
“I think it’s super special that they decided to honor his memory in that way,” Nick’s mother Judi said of her son being named homecoming king.
Nick will always be 17, full of life, full of vigor, full of humor, passion and ingenuity. He’ll always be a fighter, demanding every moment of life while he battled leukemia.
In the memories of those who knew him, he’ll be the classmate who swallowed a spoonful of cinnamon. He’ll be the one who engaged in heated classroom debates and who spliced together a video of himself receiving a bone marrow transplant.
And now, he’ll be the guy who got the girl, the homecoming queen, right at midnight when he was crowned homecoming king.
Never mind his friend Norman Torres had to stand in for him. Everybody knew Nick was there.
“It was a really good feeling,” said Norman, who accepted the crown for Nick, who died Oct. 3. He also stepped in for Nick and danced with Homecoming Queen Luna Head to the song “Enchanted” by Taylor Swift.
“I knew he was there,” Norman added. “I am sure he was up there on the dance floor.”
Norman was actually instrumental in getting Nick elected. The idea first came to him through a Facebook posting by family friend Abel Gonzalez.
“Nick Peters for 2016 HHS Homecoming King,” read the post. “Please help me start this movement. Students rock the vote. Let’s keep his legacy alive.”
Abel said he spoke to Norman about the idea before Nick died.
“The only person I knew that would move and shake the kids at school would be Norman,” he said. “Not only is he the head cheerleader but he’s the senior class president. So everybody pretty much pays attention to what Norman does and says.”
Norman learned the only way Nick could be on the ballot was to be a rep from one of the student organizations. Norman gave up his place as senior class rep and Nick was elected representative. He was one of several students on the ballot for homecoming king.
The school voted Friday during school hours. That evening the HHS Cardinals defeated the Weslaco Panthers, fitting against the backdrop of one of its own who’d fought so hard against leukemia.
Norman said no one for sure knew if Nick had been elected homecoming king until right before midnight at the dance. Everyone waited in painful anticipation as the duchess and duke, the princess and princess, the queen and the … king. Who is it?
“Nick Peters,” said the announcer to the delight of all.
Norman accepted the crown and danced slowly with Luna. They both spoke softly about how glad they were Nick had won.
“I feel really good the student body honored Nick,” he said.
Afterward, Nick’s younger brother Noah went forward to accept the crown and sash.
The whole family was touched.
“This was such a sweet thing for them to do,” said Nick’s mother. “He wasn’t even a student there that long but he knew a lot of those kids from elementary and middle school.”
Nick took a long journey through this life in a very short period of time. Last week, as he rounded the next turn in the road, she remembered something he said not long ago.
“Mom, I’ll be home in October.”
And so he is.
His new house must be right next door.