Happy birthday! Stories of 4 Lehigh Valley New Year’s babies celebrating milestone years | Historical headlines

There can be only one. Well, one a year, anyway.

But it is a special honor to be the first baby of the New Year. That pretty much automatically gets you at least a Jan. 2 headline, if not a picture and your name in the news.

As we ring in 2023, let’s celebrate some past Lehigh Valley New Year’s babies who are marking milestones today with these (sometimes awkward) stories of their big arrival. Happy birthday!

2013: Julianna Elyse Martinez turns 10 today. She was born 15 minutes into the New Year at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township. On that day, her mom, Kayla, of Emmaus, said the visit started as an ultrasound to check on Julianna, who was two days past her due date. “I was seriously not leaving until I had my baby,” mom told lehighvalleylive.com at the time. It took more than 12 hours from the ultrasound, but the baby arrived just in time to be the Lehigh Valley’s first of 2013. Kayla Martinez said it was exciting to have a New Year’s baby because one of her sisters shares the same birthday.

2003: Happy 20th to Elijah David Mravlag, who entered the world at 12:51 a.m. at St. Luke’s Hospital in Fountain Hill. Elijah wasn’t due for another day so his parents, Melissa and Sanders, of Allentown, had planned to spend the holiday with friends. But an afternoon doctor visit on New Year’s Eve revealed they would instead spend the night in the hospital. “We thought we would have (the baby) after midnight. But we didn’t think we’d be the first,” dad told The Express-Times that day. Mom said they were a little preoccupied to be thinking about it.

1998: Angelica Marie Timar is 25 today. She was welcomed at 12:28 a.m., a bit past her mid-December due date but before a planned Jan. 2 induction. Parents Jennifer and Nick, of Bushkill Township, were joyous, but dad joked that Angelica arrived just too late to qualify for a 1997 tax deduction. “He kept saying if it comes before the New Year, it was going to be a boy. If it’s after the new year, it would have to be a girl because she’d already be costing him money,” aunt Dawn Gordon told The Express-Times at the time.

1973: It’s the big 5-0 for the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. Kent Kimbal, of Flemington. Sorry we didn’t get your name in print when you were born but your parents hadn’t given you one yet. We do know you arrived at 2:25 p.m. at Hunterdon Medical Center, which qualified you — by five hours — as the first child born in 1973 at any of the four hospitals in The Easton Express coverage area at the time. Congratulations, whoever and wherever you are!

20 YEARS AGO | Jan. 1, 2003: Hellertown unicyclist Rodney Rasich returns to ride in the Philadelphia Mummer’s Day Parade 11 years after suffering a broken heel in an accident there on a 6-foot unicycle (though he still earned ninth place out of 200 character marchers). His costume for 2003 is Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

25 YEARS AGO | Jan. 3, 1998: The Express-Times reports the death of Donald Stabler, the Lehigh University graduate and businessman for whom Stabler Arena is named. Stabler, 89, started his business as a one-man construction firm in 1940 and grew it into a sprawling Upper Saucon Township campus that employed 1,200 people across 11 subsidiaries.

50 YEARS AGO | Jan. 2, 1973: The death of Roberto Clemente, the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder from Puerto Rico, is reported after a plane crash. The 38-year-old was headed to Nicaragua with relief supplies for earthquake victims. An Allentown charter school is named for him.

This story is part of Lehigh Valley Then, a periodic series that recalls historical headlines from lehighvalleylive.com, The Express-Times and their predecessors from 10, 20, 25, 50 and 100 years ago. Stories are pulled from microfilm at the Easton and Bethlehem area public libraries.

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Steve Novak may be reached at [email protected].