After seven decades, the Grandview Band Parents Association's Cake Walk has a lot of tradition and history behind it.

Now, it has a book detailing that history.

Grandview Heights High School marching band member Meghan Watters has researched the history of the event and written a book as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project.

The book is titled, "Keeping Tradition Alive in Grandview Heights: A 70-Year History of the Cake Walk."

The 70th annual Cake Walk was April 5 in the Grandview Heights High School gym.

The first event was Nov. 22, 1948 -- a Monday night, Watters said.

"It was held as a second fundraiser for the school band, to go along with the annual tag sale," she said. "It became super-popular right from the start."

After the first year, the event was moved to March or April "because it had kind of a spring vibe to it, I guess," Watters said.

Originally, there was no admission charge and a ticket to participate in a walk was 10 cents, she said.

Admission was free until 1953, when visitors were charged 25 cents. That fee remained in place until 1999. Admission now costs $1.

A ticket to participate in a cake-walk ring stayed 10 cents until 2003, when it increased to 20 cents. The cost now is three walks for $1.

As it always has, the band parents association uses the proceeds from the Cake Walk to help cover the costs of instrument repairs, band camp, mending uniforms and transporting students to games.

"It's not just to benefit the high school marching band but the entire band program for grades 5-12," said Joanne Taylor, who coordinated this year's Cake Walk with Cathy Murphy.

Each band member is required to provide at least one cake for the event, she said.

More than 400 cakes were offered at the 2019 event, Taylor said.

Watters said she uncovered most of the information about the Cake Walk's history by looking up copies of newspapers on microfiche at the Grandview Heights Public Library and in the collection of the Grandview Heights/Marble Cliff Historical Society.

"That was probably the most fun for me, reading all the old newspapers and getting to hold some of them in my hands," she said.

"It's amazing to learn about the way the community used to be and think about some of the changes that have happened over the years."

Watters also interviewed residents about their memories of the Cake Walk.

Its basic format has remained mostly the same over the years, she said.

It operates like a game of musical chairs. While the middle school or high school band plays, participants march around a ring.

When the music stops, the participants each take a seat. A number is drawn and the person sitting in the chair with the corresponding number wins a cake.

"One of the surprising things I learned is that there used to be more events held as part of the Cake Walk," Watters said. "The first few years they had a separate band concert that was held after the main Cake Walk and they had a card party."

At least one year, a square dance was held as part of the festivities.

"That seems a little weird to me, but then, I'm not really into square dancing," Watters said.

From the start, it was advertised as a communitywide event, she said. The initial ads for the Cake Walk stressed that the public was invited, she said.

"It remains a communitywide event, and that's why it's lasted 70 years," Taylor said. "People love the Cake Walk. It's embedded as a community tradition.

"We're so excited and grateful that Meghan is compiling the history of the Cake Walk," she said.

"It's a wonderful component to add to marking the 70th anniversary."

Watters said she chose to conduct the research for her Gold Award project -- the highest achievement for a Girl Scout -- in part because she's a band member and because of her interest in history.

"I want to major in history at college," she said. "I would love to be a museum curator someday."

Her personal history with the Cake Walk dates back to when she was a grade schooler.

"I loved going to the Cake Walk. It was always so much fun," Watters said.

"The first time I actually won a cake, it was so exciting. I think I was in second or third grade, and I was having a sleepover with a friend that night. We ate a lot of cake that night."

Now that she's older, "I can appreciate more all the Cake Walk's tradition and how much it's a part of our community."

At the alumni football game last fall, Watters said, she talked to former Grandview High School students who fondly remembered their own participation in the event decades ago.

"When I'm playing in the band at the Cake Walk, I can see myself in the faces of the people walking around the ring and remember when I walked around the ring," she said. "I think about the student who was sitting in my seat and playing alto sax 70 years ago.

"It feels pretty special to be part of such a long-running community tradition."

There aren't many events with the history and tradition of the Cake Walk, Taylor said.

"You'll see grandparents there with their grandchildren and they'll tell you about attending the Cake Walk with their grandparents," she said.

Taylor said copies of the book will be made available to the Grandview library so residents will be able to read and learn more about one of their community's signature events.

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