LEWISTON – Oak Hill High School junior Brendan Cundiff figured he’d be manning the barricades at the Twin Cities’ Parade of Lights on Wednesday night.

He and four of his classmates from the Lewiston Regional Technical Center’s Police Cadets had been tasked with keeping the crowds at the holiday parade out of the street – until minutes before the parade started.

A color guard scheduled to lead the parade had failed to show up, so Cundiff and the other Police Cadets were pressed into service. Wearing beige uniforms and red berets, the five got a quick five minutes to practice lockstep marching before taking off.

“I think my mom’s going to freak out just a little,” Cundiff said. “She’s not expecting me to do anything but guard the barricades.”

Cundiff and his classmates neatly guided the assortment of singing school children, illuminated snowmen, living nativities and the Edward Little High School marching band from Lewiston Courthouse Plaza down Main Street, across the Longley Bridge and to Auburn’s Festival Plaza.

This is the first year the Twin Cities have shared the holiday spotlight. Traditionally, the two celebrations were a few days apart. Lewiston led its caroling procession down Lisbon Street to Courthouse Plaza. Auburn hosted its Parade of Lights down Court Street to Festival Plaza.

“We were talking last year during the wrap-up of our festival, brainstorming some new ideas,” said Dot Perham-Whittier, Lewiston’s community relations coordinator. “We thought it might be good to work with Auburn next year, in the spirit of cooperation.”

Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert and Auburn Mayor John Jenkins kicked the celebration off at 6 p.m., lighting Lewiston’s tree in Courthouse Plaza with a countdown.

That set the Parade of Lights in motion, with the mayors at the front. Once they reached Festival Plaza, they counted down a second time and lit that city’s Christmas tree and the community’s menorah.

“We combined their parade of lights with our characters to get something bigger for both,” Perham-Whittier said.

The Twin Cities will share Santa Claus’ presence for the next few years. He made his appearance at the Auburn end of the festival on Wednesday. Next year, he’ll likely appear at the Lewiston end, Perham-Whittier said.

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