The word on Lititz: Cool? You tell me
Lititz? Cool? Really?
It's not the first word that springs to mind when you think of a town that has a giant pretzel on its Main Street, a corny annual Halloween parade and a Normal Rockwell-esque Fourth of July celebration.
Full disclosure: I live in Lititz. You might have heard that my small burg is in the running to be named "America's Coolest Small Town" in an online contest conducted by Budget Travel.
While I love living here, calling it cool is kind of like describing your grandma as "groovy."
Is Lititz cool? I decided to take a poll.
Early every morning (OK, not every morning) I head over to the Lititz recCenter, where Bruce Gilbert often mans the front desk.
I love Bruce. He tunes the center's intercom to swing music. He knows everybody by name. He's always smiling, even when greeted by my bedhead or mumbled hello.
Does he think Lititz is cool?
Turns out Bruce came in here in 1988 to shake an addiction. He moved into The Gate House, a treatment center on the east end of Lititz.
Though he has always been open about what brought him to Lititz, he used to be ashamed to even eat in public, early in his recovery, because his hands shook so badly.
But he found the people at a local restaurant didn't judge. And other people in town invited him to sit on their porches and chat during his frequent walks around town.
Relaxed, steady and ready to celebrate about 25 years of sobriety this week, he now extends a friendly hand to others.
"This town helped me develop that," he says. "They smiled at me. They treated me with respect from day one."
Cool? Bruce votes yes.
Next I head on over to Cedar Street to talk to Pastor Harry at Lititz Trinity EC Church.
I'm not one of Harry Dow's flock, but I know this man with the mischievous grin and the white beard.
He presided at the recent funeral of my father-in-law, an outdoorsman who also had a mischievous grin. It was an often joyful event that featured a eulogy delivered by a guy wearing hip waders. Pastor Harry wore a camouflage tie.
He's wearing jeans and a sweater when I catch him in his office. The man has a great handshake.
He uses another word that I wouldn't think of to describe Lititz: diverse.
It's a place where businesses such as Tait Towers and Clair Brothers support popular rock bands and where many residents support traditional values: faith, devotion to family, love.
"Life is good, God is good and Lititz is no exception," he says.
Cool? Pastor Harry votes yes.
I decide to check in last with kids over at Warwick High School, stopping in Christina Wilson's class, which produces the televised "Morning Show" announcements.
This lively bunch will be able to help me decide if Lititz is cool. At 52, what do I know from cool? But they laugh when I ask the question.
"Are we talking about the same Lititz?" one asks.
Then I stand back as everybody chimes in about what is cool (or kool, as one kid calls it) about Lititz: Second Friday. Candyology. The skate park. Freeze & Frizz. Dosie Dough.
Lititz is an actual town, where people live, and where you can walk around and go into restaurants and shops, they say.
Tyler Jones, 16, laughs and admits, "If I was old, I'd like to move back here."
What's old? his teacher asks. Over 35, Tyler says.
I don't tell Tyler about my daughter, not much older than he is. When we bring her home from college, she wants to just drive through town, soaking it all in.
Kool? I vote yes.