Dan St. Pierre and Carol White-St. Pierre, right, pass out birthday cake cut by Miss Maine Olivia Mayo, Miss Auburn Kiley Jolicoeur, and Miss Lewiston Alysia Berry during the kickoff ceremony to celebrate Auburn’s 150th birthday Friday morning at Auburn Hall. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

AUBURN — Mayor Jason Levesque told an audience at Auburn Hall on Friday that he took a “go big or go home” approach to the city’s 150th birthday celebration.

Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque speaks Friday morning during a ceremony commemorating Auburn’s 150th birthday. To the right is a letter from President Donald Trump recognizing the birthday and the “community’s enduring spirit.”  (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

So, for those gathered at the ceremony Friday morning, that meant two large sheet cakes cut with a sword by Maine pageant contestants and video tributes from U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King. A letter penned by President Donald Trump stood framed in the middle of the room, and a former New York Yankee from Auburn sang the national anthem.

“This reinforces Auburn’s place in Maine’s future,” Levesque said after the ceremony, which was attended by dozens of local and state officials.

The event kicked off a citywide celebration, as more than 30 locations around Auburn served cake.

A map of the sites was posted online and Levesque urged everyone to get to as many as possible. In all, he said, there would be about 5,000 pieces of cake availabl. By midday, Levesque said he had eaten 10 pieces.

The city is celebrating the anniversary all year. Next is a Memorial Day parade that Levesque said will be the largest in Maine. It will take place on the 100th anniversary of a parade in Auburn that celebrated the end of World War I in 1919, he said.

“I’ve never been more proud, humbled and honored to say that I’m the mayor of Auburn, Maine,” he said during his remarks.

Volunteers pass out cake celebrating Auburn’s 150th birthday Friday morning. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

Auburn was incorporated as a city on Feb. 22, 1869, becoming Maine’s 13th city. Thomas Littlefield was Auburn’s first mayor.

Tizz Crowley, a former city councilor known for her historical flair, wore a red and gold period dress that she said would’ve been typical in 1869.

“I’m willing to bet Mrs. Littlefield, the first mayor’s wife, would’ve dressed this way,” she said, adding that the red was also a nod to Edward Little High School, whose sports teams are known as the Red Eddies.

Levesque went through some of the city’s history, including its former rule as one of the shoe-making capitals of the world. At one point, he said, Auburn was responsible for 75 percent of the world’s supply of canvas shoes.

“It’s safe to say that Auburn has left a permanent mark on the world,” he said. “Built on the shoulders of hardworking, determined and fearless individuals.”

U.S. Sen. King, in his video message, said “civic pride” is apparent when visiting Auburn.

“It’s one of the most vital and exciting communities in Maine,” King said, adding, “150 years is a real accomplishment.”

“This is the time to celebrate the generations of hardworking people who have made Auburn such a wonderful place to live, work and raise families,” U.S. Sen. Collins said in her statement.

Larry Gowell, a former Major League Baseball pitcher and a graduate of Edward Little High School, sang the national anthem and led the singing of “Happy Birthday” as the cake was cut.

Getting the first opportunity at the cake-cutting were members of the Knights of the Sun, a youth organization of the Masonic Temple in Auburn. According to Levesque, who said he was a member as a young man, the sword used to cut the cake was a “Masonic sword.”

After a photo-op, Miss Maine Olivia Mayo, Miss Auburn Kiley Jolicoeur and Miss Lewiston Alysia Berry took over, cutting pieces for the crowd.

A few minutes later, Levesque took to the podium with breaking news: The first Auburn baby to be born on the city’s birthday was announced. That lucky kid, he said, will have a free summer campership from the Auburn Recreation Department from ages 5 to 13.

As the cake was passed around, Carl Sheline, office manager at Maple Way Dental Care, an event sponsor, said the dentists from Maple Way urged everyone to enjoy the cake, but to make sure to brush their teeth.

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