Nancy Edmonds Hanson
Moorhead residents and friends from surrounding communities took first place in the record book Saturday when a far-larger-than-expected crowd – 652 of every age – broke the world record for the biggest cake walk in history.
“We were starting to march at 11. By 10:30, only 120 people had come. We thought, ‘Well, this is a washout,’” says J.J. Gordon, who with Amy Iler put together the community’s first-ever event to take the cake. “Then the flood gates opened!”
Cars were heading to the Bluestem Center for the Arts, home of Trollwood Performing Arts School, as far as the eye could see. The KFGO Radio crew scrambled to put out more numbers for contestants to land on, finally resorting to scrawling digits on index cars. Lines of cake cravers waited to get numbered wristbands. (“We had to order them in a lot of 1,000,” Iler notes. “That was lucky.”
When the music started, the crowd marched (or, says Gordon, “shuffled”) around an irregular circle across the park’s grounds. After five circuits, five fortunate contestants each won a year’s worth of cakes from the bakery that cosponsored the event, Nothing Bundt Cakes of West Fargo. Five more, including former mayor Del Rae Williams, nabbed second prizes, a baking kit to make – what else? – their own bundt cakes. The prizes were contributed by cake shop entrepreneurs Rinda Norberg and Jenna Larson.
But everyone walked away licking their fingers. The cake shop provided “bundtlets,” cupcake-sized variations in vanilla or chocolate, to all who took part.
Iler and Gordon, hosts of “It Takes Two” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the area’s top radio station, first came up with the idea in 2020. “We were looking for fun things to do during the pandemic, and thought at first a cake walk would work – in cars,” Gordon says. That idea was set aside amidst thoughts of traffic tie-ups and crashes; instead, they went on to sponsor “Parking Lot Bingo” sessions on both sides of the river.
They resurrected the notion earlier this year. “We thought it was important to bring something to Moorhead,” he commented. “Greater Moorhead Days was perfect for the ‘world’s largest cake walk.’”
The two were surprised, they said, at how many participants had never taken part of a cake walk before or, in some cases, even heard of the event, often a staple of school events and church suppers. “We asked for a show of hands,” Iler said. “It was about 60-40.”
The Moorhead event’s triumphant total of 652 marchers not only bested the existing record of 327 set in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 2017; it nearly doubled it. The laurels may not last for long. A challenge is said to be rising at Ohio University’s Baker University Center.
“They can try,” Iler says, “but they’ll have their hands full beating us.”
Will the city now toast its title with a sculpture of the World’s Largest Bundt Cake? Probably not. But Gordon muses, “Stranger things have happened.”