10th Chocolate Walk shines with flavor & fun
By: ROCHELLE A. SHENK Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer
The Lititz Chocolate Walk is a “chocolate for charity” event that’s raised over $180,000 for local charities in the past nine years, but it’s also a fun event.
“Everybody — the participants, vendors, shop owners and volunteers — has fun and is happy. When you walk around the downtown during Chocolate Walk, everyone is smiling, no matter what the weather. Five years ago it rained, and people were still happy. That was when we knew we had something special,” said Mark Freeman, chair of the Chocolate Walk committee.
Chocolate Walk, which is limited to 2,000 participants, is traditionally held the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend. This most recent Saturday was beautiful and sunny, perfect for strolling around downtown Lititz and sampling treats.
Since this was the 10th anniversary, there were some special treats, including a special edition Land’s End cooler-pak that was available for purchase. There were also 32 locations, up from 30 last year.
“We try to find ways to make the Chocolate Walk more enjoyable every year, so we added more locations. Our goal is that lines don’t get too long, and walkers have a chance to meet the wonderful artisans who give of their time and delectable chocolate products,” said Charlie Stickler, president of Lititz Area Kiwanis.
The event is hosted by the Lititz Area Kiwanis Club, the Manheim Township Key Club, Wilbur Chocolate, Blue Ridge Communications, and the North Star of Lititz. Funds raised by the event benefit the Schreiber Pediatric Center, the Lititz Public Library, Manheim Township Public Library, Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic and other local Kiwanis-sponsored youth activities.
Chocolate Walk stops included a mix of new and ongoing vendors, as well as a mix of locations. The chocolate creations were as varied as the locations, and some also featured entertainment. Two chocolatiers teamed up at the North Star of Lititz to make the walk there a worthwhile effort.
Rachel’s Café and Creperie offered samples of chocolate crepes from a mobile stand in the parking lot; and Frederic Loraschi of Chocolat Frederic Loraschi, who is new to the Chocolate Walk, offered samples of his delectable creations. Loraschi has an extensive culinary background, but is perhaps best known in our area as having served as lead of the pastry operation at Hotel Hershey prior to opening his own business at the end of 2005.
“Being part of the Chocolate Walk is great. I not only get to help a local charity, but also have the opportunity to meet people and see them enjoy what I’ve created,” he said.
Bob Linkens, Linden Hall’s chef, has been part of the Chocolate Walk since its inception. His samples this year included a white chocolate with mango and pepper, almond bark, cranberry and almond bark, dark chocolate with wasabi and ginger (a chocolate with a bit of a kick), and a new creation — dark chocolate with cardamom and lemon.
“I play with chocolate all year. It’s fun to find the combinations that hit just the right notes,” he said.
Other delectable chocolate creations included the Lititz chocolate sundae, a special creation for the Chocolate Walk at Freeze and Frizz; chocolate covered pretzels at Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery; a triple chocolate brownie at Dosie Dough; and a sweet relish with chocolate shavings at Lititz Pickle Company.
Not all the treats were for humans. Two Pups Pastries offered a special carob treat for man’s best friend.
Kathy Blankenbiller, a Chocolate Walk veteran, had one of her edible works of art on display at Wilbur Chocolate. This year’s creation, which she began working on in July, features Santa Claus asleep by the fireplace, resting up for his long journey ahead. Santa’s head reindeer, Rudolph, complete with blinking nose, was part of a scene on an adjoining table. She said the inspiration for this year’s creation was her love of Christmas.
“It’s my favorite time of the year and I absolutely adore Santa!” she said.
As they viewed her creation, Chocolate Walkers were awestruck.
“I was surprised to find that everything was edible,” said Gina Teaman, Lancaster.
Teaman, who was doing the walk with a friend, said she that although she lived in Lititz several years ago, this was her first time at the Chocolate Walk.
Other walkers strolled the streets with insulated coolers to take home some of the treats, or even Halloween-style treat baskets. After all, the event has been likened to an adult version of Trick or Treat.
Chocolate Walk is also a destination for a number of Red Hats, friends and family groups. Six members of the Lovely Ladies of the Hat strolled through the stops, all dressed in their red and purple finery. One of the members, a Red Hatter from Bainbridge, explained that this is the group’s fifth Chocolate Walk, and although she enjoys the samples, she also enjoys looking in the shops.
Regina Bierbower, Reading, has attended every Chocolate Walk and has a collection of buttons to prove it. She visited the event with three friends that went to elementary school with her.
“It’s a fun day and a chance for us all to get together,” she said.
The Reifsnyder family made the event a mini-family reunion and were decked out in yellow T-shirts emblazoned with Amazing Graze — the REA (Recreational Eaters of America). This is Betsy Reifsnyder of Bernville’s fifth Chocolate Walk. She was accompanied by her two sisters and spouses, who are first-time participants. One sister lives in Dayton, Ohio, and the other lives in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Betsy said that the family loves chocolate. They host an annual “Death By Chocolate” event during the holidays.
Even the volunteers have fun.
Abbie Ellis, who works at Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic, was volunteering for her second year.
“It’s fun seeing all the people walking by. They’re all happy and pleasant,” she said.
While most people get to take home some great memories, their Chocolate Walk button, a number of their chocolate samples, and perhaps a shopping find or two, there were two special raffles this year. Kathy Hering, Manheim, was the winner of a candy basket, and Kristen Calapa, Hanover, Mass., was the winner of a special framed 10th anniversary piece featuring the Chocolate Walk flyer and all 10 of the Chocolate Walk buttons. The button collection was donated by Lititz Kiwanis Club member Steve Wardwell, and framing was donated by Tracee’s Framery. More CHOCOLATE WALK, page A19