A group of former high school classmates gathered Sept. 14 at Water Works Park for a tradition they’ve kept up for more than 60 years.

Members of the Cuyahoga Falls High School Class of 1951 have gathered for a reunion every five years since their first five-year reunion, in 1956, said Sarah Hrdlicka, one of the organizers.

"We’re all 86 now," she said.

While many of the classmates no longer live in Ohio, 20 of the original 150 alumni came to the reunion on Saturday.

"We were close when we were in school," said Hrdlicka, who lives in Green. "We knew them all, we knew everybody. We all did the same things."

Most kids back then had some sort of extracurricular activity, Hrdlicka said, and the kids she knew would hang out together in the park without adult supervision. She remembers biking to Water Works Park alone as an 8-year old.

Grades and having boyfriends weren’t an issue either in high school, she said, adding she never saw a fight between fellow students either.

"We had a very, very relaxed atmosphere," she said.

Hrdlicka said Cuyahoga Falls has changed a lot since she her high school days, starting shortly after graduation.

After leaving for college in August of 1951 to attend Penn State University, she came back for Thanksgiving in November and saw whole blocks of new homes built.

In the old days, she said, people would park their cars downtown and have conversations along Front Street. Now, that’s uncommon.

"Nobody knows anybody," she said.

Peg Stevens, a former classmate who now lives in Florida, said she developed closer friendships with the women she went to high school with as they all grew older. When she lost her luggage on the class reunion cruise and had nothing to wear, the other women loaned her their clothes.

"It was my first cruise ever and it was so nice to have people who were so generous as to loan me their clothes," Stevens said.

But she fondly recalls friendships she had in high school too.

"My favorite memories are of the slumber parties that my little group of girlfriends did all the time," she said.

Gordan Griffiths, whose parents graduated in the class of 1951 and who was involved with the Cuyahoga Falls School Foundation, said the class of 1951 is especially involved.

"This is the most organized class I’ve seen," Griffiths said, adding, "They’ve just been real active."

Eileen McClory can be reached at emccclory@recordpub.com.