HANNIBAL, Mo. -- The city of Hannibal capped off its yearlong bicentennial celebration Saturday night by setting an apparent world record in the category of "World's Largest Dessert Party at One Location."
The record was smashed at 7 p.m. when 1,889 people simultaneously consumed vanilla cupcakes while standing in the middle of Main Street.
This effort appears to have broken the previous world record set June 8 by the city of Ludington, Mich., which earned entry into the Guinness World Records by having 1,558 people consume a single serving of dessert simultaneously.
Hannibal's record still must be verified by Guinness officials, who will be sent all the documentation and video evidence needed to prove Hannibal is the new record holder.
"That process could take months," explained McKenzie Disselhorst, executive director of the Hannibal Area Chamber of Commerce, one of several organizations that sponsored the event.
Disselhorst was delighted with the turnout and the willingness of so many people to help Hannibal achieve a world record as part of its 200th anniversary celebration.
"I'm really excited about how it turned out," she said. "Our volunteers were amazing. People braved cold weather to come and celebrate with us and help us break the record. It put us on the map for one more thing."
The record-setting attempt was scheduled purposely to coincide with Hannibal's annual "Living Windows" Christmas event, which ordinarily draws hundreds of people to downtown Hannibal during the peak of the holiday season.
Participants in the world record effort had to register in advance. Upon signing their names, they were given a numbered token corresponding with one of four blocks along Main Street where they were told to gather. Then at 6:45 p.m., several teams of volunteers went through the crowd handing a cupcake to each person in exchange for their token.
After everyone ate their cupcakes, the volunteers counted all the tokens they collected and re-counted all the names on the registration forms to verify how many people took part.
Hannibal only needed to have 1,559 participants to break the world record. It ended up with 330 more than that goal.
Disselhorst said the participants were enthusiastic, despite the cold weather.
"People are excited about being part of something that's big and official, like a Guinness world record," she said.
A slight bit of confusion took place at the moment the record was set. A fire truck at Main and Broadway sounded its siren precisely at 7 p.m. as a signal for everyone to begin biting into their cupcakes.
However, many participants down the street couldn't hear the siren. So Sarah Deien of Y101 Radio, who emceed the event for the Chamber of Commerce, took it upon herself to conduct a countdown.
Deien announced over a loud speaker: "One, two, three! Happy birthday, Hannibal!" which prompted the crowd to start munching.
Among those turning out for the event were Kayloni Obert of Liberty, Ill., and her three kids -- Elijah, 9; Raelee, 5; and Lila, 2. They were joined by four other family members as well.
"We just wanted our kids to experience this world record," she said. "It's probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing."
Kayloni's mother, Jeane Hurt of Barry, Ill., said everyone in the family was excited to be part of a world record attempt.
"I think it's awesome," she said. "It's not something you get to do every day."
Kathryn Otten and her granddaughter, Addisyn Sunderland, drove to Hannibal from Huntsville, Mo., near Moberly, because "we wanted to participate in this event," Otten said. "It was only about 65 to 70 miles. We participate in all that we can."
Lloyd Demotte, a Vietnam veteran who moved to Hannibal several months ago, said he joined the crowd along Main Street Saturday "to help Hannibal break the record."
Demotte, however, realized early in the evening that the thin coat he wore initially wasn't going to suffice in the 30-degree weather.
"I walked 10 blocks up and back so I could get a warmer coat so I could make sure to be here," he said.
Marla Wisdom of Hannibal wore a Santa hat as she stood in the street waiting for the cupcake challenge to begin. She comes to the Living Windows event every year and viewed the world-record attempt as extra icing on top of an already fun event.
"It just kind of adds to it," she said.