LEWISTON — A full week after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of 18 and injured 13, the city took a step forward in healing with the Battle of the Bridge, the perennial football showdown between Edward Little’s Red Eddies and Lewiston’s Blue Devils.

Before kickoff, around 2,000 spectators and athletes paid tribute to first responders including police, firefighters, EMTs and hospital workers who stepped in to help victims in the first minutes and hours after the Oct. 25 shootings, and the names of the dead were read aloud. “Let us not forget these names,” the announcer said.

Dozens of the first responders stood in rows on the field while the crowd cheered for several minutes.

Then, Grammy Award-winning musician James Taylor performed an acoustic version of the national anthem, to cheers from the crowd.

The Battle of the Bridge features cross-river rivals Lewiston High School and Edward Little High School. In the end, Lewiston came out on top, 34-18.

Last Friday’s game between the Blue Devils and Red Eddies was postponed after the cities were locked down while police searched for 40-year-old Robert Card, who was found dead Friday night, two days after the mass shooting at a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston.


James Taylor acknowledges the crowd before singing the national anthem prior to Wednesday’s Battle of the Bridge game between Edward Little and Lewiston at Lewiston High School. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“Tonight we gather to say thank you, to recognize the strength of the history that is family between Lewiston and Auburn, the little river that separates us and the tons of family crossing those borders,” Lewiston Schools Superintendent Jake Langlais said. “Tonight we’re here to replace the visions, sounds and fears of last week with new memories. Tonight as these two teams meet again, we thank those who risked it all to protect and heal our community and the loved ones they kissed when they answered the call of duty and left home.”

Langlais reflected on how the city will move forward.

“We started this week trying to do the best we could. We had an objective to care for those who cared for us, and tonight we’re doing that,” he said.

“We’re looking to pace our return to the new normal, whatever that is, in what was a command center one week ago,” Langlais said, referring to how the Lewiston campus was used by law enforcement during the search for the shooter. “Today that place is a place of community.”

Langlais introduced Lewiston Police Department Chief David St. Pierre, thanking his department and others across Maine and the country for their response.

St. Pierre said though the community faced tragedy, he believes Lewiston’s resilience continues to shine brightly.


“One week ago today, this community faced an unforeseeable tragedy,” St. Pierre told the crowd. “I can confirm with unwavering confidence that Lewiston’s resilience has been proven and continues to shine brightly through these trying times.”

Lewiston High School students at the annual Battle of the Bridge between Lewiston and Edward Little at Lewiston High, one week after the mass shooting that claimed 18 lives on Wednesday. Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald

As the game began, announcer Bob Blanchard acknowledged the loss of life and the families in mourning.

“Words cannot express the tremendous grief our communities are experiencing over the tragedy of this past week,” Blanchard said over the public address system. “As a community we are stunned. We mourn the tragic loss of lives and injuries, and our deepest sympathies go out to the victims, their families and friends.”

Fans and students decked out in school colors began arriving about two hours before kickoff to snag good seats. Blue and white balloons hung from a fence near the field, and a banner displayed the interlocked first letters of Lewiston and Auburn and the phrase “We stand together.”

Placards with the names of each of the victims written in blue in the center of a heart were also posted on the fence.

Before the game, Blue Devils coach Jason Versey said the game has given many the opportunity to truly be together since people were allowed to emerge from their homes Friday.


“I don’t know if it’s a new chapter or if we’re just turning the page, but this is an opportunity for both of our communities to …. (show) we’re not cowering to the darkness, but shining a light and loving one another and being compassionate. And being one community. Even though we’re separated by a river, we are truly one community.”

Versey, donning a driver’s cap with the Blue Devils slogan “We are one,” said the two-year-old slogan was not embroidered specially for this game, though it may appear that way. It is something he, and coaches before him, have been preaching for years as a culture.

“We also have a ‘F.A.M.I.L.Y.,’ and that stands for ‘forget about me, I love you.’ So, it’s really about selflessness and putting other people before yourself.”

The theme for the Edward Little High School student section for Wednesday’s game in Lewiston against Lewiston High School was neon. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Among the crowd was Skip Capone, who taught at Lewiston High School for 35 years and coached its football team from 1983 to 1996. He said while the game is important, at the same time, it is not that important.

“Just the fact we’re all coming together after such a tough, tough week is important,” said Capone. “There are a lot of personal stories, a lot of reasons why people are here and …. (we’re) really trying to make a positive out of a negative. You can’t make it totally positive, but you certainly can make some people feel better, put a smile on their face, and go from there.”

Jennifer Laroche-Albert, a counselor at Lewiston High, said it was “awesome to see families, students and our athletes bonding together.”


Longtime Red Eddies football announcer Bim Gibson said the history of the rivalry has so many side stories, mostly good, but this one is more about community than any other games he can remember given the fact that the tragedy affected both communities.

“The fact that this affected so many people on both sides of the river I think means this rivalry is even more important. It also offers us the opportunity to get out and see each other. I can’t remember a game that, before the game, was more about ‘let’s all be together and let’s just celebrate the twin cities. …’ That’s what it means.”

Spectator Mark Barrett, a 58-year-old car salesman from Lewiston, said he knew two people who were injured in the shooting.

“It’s like they say, ‘Lewiston strong.’ We are all here together as one,” Barrett said. “This is probably the perfect setting, because it’s against your crosstown rival. It’s going to be a great game. It’s going to be a game of unity.”

Lewiston High School senior Madison Freeman points to her Lewiston Strong hat Wednesday in Lewiston while talking with her friend, freshman Ella Bement, prior to the Battle of the Bridge football game with Edward Little High School of Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

The winner gets to hold onto a trophy for the year and, of course, bragging rights.

Barrett’s granddaughter, 13-year-old Aiyana Warren, said she was a bit nervous to come out for the game but was glad she did.


“At the end of the day, I just feel like we’re all coming together,” she said. “Most of us here have good intentions, just trying to get back with our community and build back better.”

Kaiya Poulin, a 15-year-old first-year student from Lewiston, said she was heartened to get support even from people in Auburn who would normally be bitter rivals.

“It’s definitely good to see everyone,” she said. “We missed everyone. We couldn’t see each other. We were worried about one another.”

Brandon Morin, 36, a lifelong Lewiston resident, brought his 3- and 5-year-old daughters to the game.

“Unity is the big word going around right now,” he said. “It’s huge we all come together because after the tragic things that did happen, it’s good we remember the importance of each other and the passion of friendship, family and love.”

Associated Press writer Michael Casey contributed to this report.

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