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‘You can’t write a better Christmas story than this’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Police officers rode their horses with attached antlers to make them look like reindeer.

Cheer squads pumped up a crowd of families who watched the Twinkle Light Parade in Nob Hill earlier this month with glee.

But trouble wasn’t far away.

Firefighters Eric Adair and Christopher Epley jumped into action and helped a young girl who was choking on a candy cane during the Twinkle Light Parade earlier this month. Adair and Epley got hero medals from the mayor on Tuesday. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

“It was an evening that took a frightening turn for one little girl and her mother,” Albuquerque Fire Chief Gilbert Santistevan told a news conference to honor a pair of quick-thinking firefighters. “But it was one which ultimately had a happy ending.”

Albuquerque Fire Department Ladder 5 truck was part of the parade. Firefighter Chris Adair was on the truck, waving to the crowd when a mother in distress caught his eye.

“When I saw Mom, flagging us down, obviously, I noticed an issue. She was crying,” he said. “As firemen, we act. … Instinct took over.”

Firefighters Eric Adair, left, and driver Christopher Epley were recognized on Tuesday for helping save a young girl during the Twinkle Light Parade. (Courtesy of Emile Nakhleh)

Adair yelled for driver Christopher Epley to stop, and he did, and the two firefighters ran to the mother. They quickly learned her daughter, about 8 years old, was choking.

The pair took the girl to the firetruck, and Adair said it took two Heimlich maneuvers to dislodge candy in the girl’s throat.

The girl and her mother quickly disappeared into the crowd.

The treat that almost ruined Christmas for one family was none other than a candy cane.

“A little girl choking on a candy cane, you can’t write a better Christmas story than this,” Mayor Tim Keller said. “I’m so glad our Fire Department and these two individuals were actually able to literally save the day.”

Keller gave Adair and Epley hero coins for their efforts.

“As a father – I have a 2- and a 4-year-old – we panic about choking all the time,” Keller said.

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