Towering Cake Survives 20-Mile Trip from Duluth to Carlton

Posted at: 08/16/2013 4:20 PM | Updated at: 08/16/2013 10:44 PM

Baking a birthday cake likely doesn't take you much more than an hour. But the one delivered to Black Bear Casino Resort Friday took a month to put together. It's on display for their 20th anniversary weekend.

"I love the artwork. It looks so lifelike," said Black Bear visitor Marie Ojala.

Marie's husband, Esa, said "it looks good doesn't it? Do you have a fork?"

The 10-foot-tall structure is made up of several pieces. A bear made almost entirely out of cake sits on top of a base made of sugar, frosting and a wood structure. Behind it is a light display of the Aurora Borealis on panels made of sugar.

It's all made by How Sweet It Is Cakes in downtown Duluth. Getting the pieces of the confectionery creation to the casino wasn't easy. Eyewitness News tagged along on the seven hour journey.

Rewind several hours to 5 a.m.

It was dark on Superior Street as the How Sweet It Is Cakes crew showed up for moving day. Owner Eileen Brown was cheery - excited about the task at hand - but stressed out about pulling it off.

They need a lot of equipment to put the structure together. Screws, saws, hair dryers, pots, pans, a drill, sugar, frosting, the list goes on.

The bear, named Balsam by employees, is the most fragile part of that structure. Eileen said it took 18 people a month to build all the pieces for the structure, including the bear, all while they had other projects.

"We have 15 weddings this week. Last week we had 18," Eileen said.

All that work adds up to about 200 hours of overtime, she said.

Before 6 a.m. the crew started loading the rental truck. The first piece took several minutes to get on. It's the first time they had ever loaded anything this big onto a truck, so we witnessed some trial and error.

The second piece was loaded fast. But the bear was a little more tough. It took more time and patience. "You hold him down so he doesn't tip," shop employee Jeremy Schrupp said.

Jeremy rode in the back of the truck to keep the bear upright. "I'm probably the least stressed out person here so I'm the best to have in the back," he said.

We put a camera on his head to document the 20-plus mile drive to Carlton. It was slow, dotted with orange cones and impatient drivers. Inside the back of the truck Jeremy was on damage control and had to pin a portion of the bears leg to keep it from falling off.

But at 7:20 a.m., we made it to Black Bear. Unloading seemed like a breeze compared to getting those pieces in the truck. Screwing the base happened in a flash.

We asked Eileen if the hard part was done. She said "no, we still have to put the bear on top of that mountain."

After a little bit of Balsam tender loving care - spraying him with edible paint and filling in holes with frosting - it was time to put the bear in his place.

A Black Bear maintenance crew brought a forklift to move the bear. Several How Sweet It Is employees pushed the bear into place at the top of the base. He ended up there in one piece just as planned.

At 12 p.m. the finishing touches were almost done. "It's exciting, it's fun and it's great to see it all come together," Eileen said.

Black Bear Marketing Assistant Monica DeCaro was thrilled with the work. “We are super excited about this. We wanted to celebrate with a cake just because it's our anniversary and who doesn't like cake?"

It’s the biggest cake Eileen has ever made. “Oh I'm not going to lie it was very stressful," she said.

But still she said “we'd do it again, bring it on."

The display will be up in the casino lobby until Monday.

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