GENEVA – The gigantic candy cane was laid out on a table, wrapped in festive green blown sugar ribbon and lit up with white lights.
Hundreds of people crowded around in the winter dark of Geneva's Third Street Saturday night, watching as Chef Alain Roby of the All-Chocolate Kitchen used a small blow torch to fasten the last cluster of spun-sugar ribbon bows to his massive creation: A 51-foot candy cane made of 900 pounds of sugar.
But there was a purpose to Roby's work, and that was to break the previous Guinness World Record of a 38-foot candy cane.
As children sat on their parents' shoulders and onlookers reached up to record the scene on their phones, Roby and his helpers measured the sugar monster, taping it as documentation to be sent to New York.
A few moments later, Roby announced that Guinness confirmed, his was the new record, and a cheer went up.
This would be a third Guinness World Record for Roby, who holds world records for the tallest cooked sugar building at 12 feet, 10 inches, and the largest chocolate sculpture, at 20 feet, eight inches.
Roby's Third Street candy cane came on the second night of Geneva's Annual Christmas Walk, festivities to kick off the holiday season.
Three friends from Naperville who spent all day shopping were also enthralled by Roby's achievement.
"It's incredible," said Julie Lesak.
"We love to come for the Christmas Walk," said Karen Carlson. "We had a lot of shopping to do for our friend Kim [Channell's] birthday. Every year, we do something, and this was our year to come here."
One of the trio admitted she could not resist temptation and stole a furtive lick from the colossal candy creation.
As Roby was putting on the last touches on the candy cane, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns introduced the chef's wife, Esther Roby, whose birthday happened to be Saturday. Burns led the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday" to Esther Roby.
Burns shared the story of how the two met, at JFK International Airport – both traveling in different directions – and then they were married a month later, and have been married 32 years.
Burns said Roby constructed the candy cane out of four-foot and eight-foot segments weighing 200 pounds.
"Chef Roby himself – AKA, Popeye – did all this himself," Burns said. "It is amazing."
Once the new world record was confirmed, Roby announced that they would break the candy cane apart and hand out souvenir pieces to the crowd.
A moment, later, Roby was pulling off chunks of candy, dropping them into white plastic bags and his sons and helpers began handing them out to the crowd.
"I think it's spectacular," said Dan Baker of Geneva. "I came right down here for this – to support our town and to support Alain Roby."