Love affair with Lititz

By on February 20, 2014

Billy and Kim Gies

Billy and Kim Gies

Newlyweds Billy and Kim Gies strolled through Lititz Springs Park this past Friday, stopping to aptly admire two hearts carved out of ice as they celebrated their first Valentine’s Day as husband and wife by visiting the Fire & Ice Festival. The natives of Long Island, N.Y., have been married just two weeks. Not only are they clearly in love with each other, they’re also in love with Lititz. So much so, that in May they’re moving to the “Coolest Small Town in America.”

“Our dream for the last 12 years was to move to Lititz, Pennsylvania,” said Billy. “Finally our dream came true.”

Gies is a volunteer firefighter who first fell in love with Lititz when he came to speak to an audience of local firefighters following 9/11. His brother Ronnie, also a firefighter, was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Gies was impressed with Lititz, and embraced by its residents. When he returned to New York and told Kim of his discovery, she was somewhat skeptical.

“When he came back he said, ‘I gotta tell you about this town,’” she recalled. “It sounded too good to be true.”

Kim got her first glimpse of Lititz on the Fourth of July in 2002. They didn’t come just for the fireworks, though.

“My brother is honored in the parade here every year,” Billy said. That remembrance means a lot to Gies. During his initial visit, he struck up a friendship with fellow firefighter Ron Oettel, now the mayor of Lititz. He and Kim have continued to vacation in Lititz at every opportunity. In 2004, Gies received a key to the town from Mayor Pettyjohn. Some ten years later, the couple looks forward to calling Lititz their home.

“May can’t come fast enough,” said Billy, and Kim concurred. The pair are excited that Lititz is dog-friendly and that they will have lots of room on their two-acre property for their six dogs and two cats. Still, they acknowledge the move is a big adjustment. They leave behind family, including adult children, in order to make their Lititz dream a reality.

“It’s a big change, but it’s a good change,” Kim said, noting that their children look forward to coming to visit. It appears that the biggest challenge ahead of them is to find local employment. Billy Gies will be leaving his job at a school district, where he has worked the past seven years, to follow his heart.

“There’s something for me here,” Billy said, then acknowledged that he doesn’t know yet what awaits him. Billy would like to obtain a volunteer or paid position promoting Lititz. To listen to him speak, you’d think he already had the job.

“I’d like to let people know what they’re missing,” Billy said. “The parks are gorgeous; there’s a slower pace of life.”

As for Kim, she is hopeful that she can find employment in the field she has worked in for 25 years: animal care at a veterinary hospital. Both look forward to becoming involved in the Lititz community and Billy is eager to use his skills as an event organizer.

So what Lititz event hasn’t the couple been in town for yet? They’re looking forward to attending their first AMBUCS Craft Show this coming August. As much fun as visiting Lititz has been, they look forward to calling Lititz their home.

“Words can’t express how excited we are,” said Billy Gies.

Lynn Rebuck is an award-winning columnist and correspondent for The Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments at Lynn@LynnRebuck.com.

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