How cool is Lititz? No. 1 so far in national online contest run by travel firm.
BY CINDY STAUFFER, Staff Writer
Brian Volpone walks a half-mile to work each day through the streets of Lititz.
He loves inhaling the warm chocolate smell emanating from Wilbur Chocolate. He also enjoys looking at the town's historic buildings and soaking in its family-friendly vibe.
Volpone, 46, thinks Lititz is "America's Coolest Small Town." And so do a bunch of other folks, who are voting online in a national contest being hosted by Budget Travel on its website, budgettravel.com.
"It's such a neat little place," said the father of four, who works at Luthercare as a network administrator and is married to a Lititz native, Bev.
Lititz is the only Pennsylvania town on the list of the contest's 15 finalists.
The local town was in first place Tuesday in polling, which ends next month. And its lead was growing by the hour, against current second-place holder, Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Lititz residents and officials are excited about the contest, and hoping local residents continue to vote (you can cast a ballot once a day until the contest ends) and that the town comes out on top. To vote in the contest, go to www.budgettravel.com.
"We have a sense of real community," said Mayor Ron Oettel. "People who live here really do have a sense of pride."
Lititz is a "true town," said Gaylord Poling, an owner of the Tiger's Eye, a shop in town. It's a place where people live, work and shop, he said.
People gather at coffee shops and pubs. On Second Fridays, they shop and listen to live music on the town's sidewalks. In the summer, they buy produce and baked goods at a farmer's market.
Residents and others also flock to Lititz's annual events: the July Fourth celebration, the August craft show, the fall Chocolate Walk, the Halloween parade, the Christmas tree-lighting and the upcoming Fire and Ice Festival.
"When I look at Lititz, I see this multifaceted diamond," said Kelly Withum, executive director of Venture Lititz.
In October, Withum and Sue Barry, borough manager, nominated the borough to the Budget Travel contest, which received 964 entries. The magazine and website whittled that list down to the top 15 last week.
The finalists, in addition to Lititz, include Camden, Maine; Put-in-Bay, Ohio; Quincy, Calif.; Shepherdstown W.Va.; and Flagler Beach, Fla., among others.
Town officials believe a win would boost tourism not only in Lititz but the county and surrounding region.
The contest is being heavily promoted on social media sites. Warwick School District and the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau both are urging folks to vote for Lititz on their Facebook pages.
For Volpone and others who live in Lititz, the borough already is the best small town, though they might not actually use the world "cool" when describing the location of the oldest independent boarding girls' school (Linden Hall), a historic church dating to 1749 (Lititz Moravian) or the country's first commercial pretzel bakery (Julius Sturgis).
"That's kind of an odd choice of words," Volpone said, laughing. "I have a friend who said you're kind of stretching the definition of cool with that, but it's a great little town."\