Picture this: You and your adolescent pop up a table and start hawking lemonade to your neighbors when, all of the sudden, the police drop by to bust up your operation. Sound crazy? Well, that's just what's happening in small towns across America.
In the month of July alone, at least five makeshift lemonade stands were shut down. In some cases, the "offenders" were charged up to $500.
Lemonade stands, which were once a great way to teach kids how to actually make money for themselves, now serve as a harsh lesson in governmental control.
Let's take a look at each case on a state by state basis:
Ten-year-old Lydia Coenen and her 9-year-old sister Vivian Coenen were near their Appleton home Sunday morning, preparing to sell lemonade to people heading to a car show. But an officer told them the sales were prohibited by city ordinance. The law went into effect last month and bars licensed vendors from selling food and drinks within a two-block radius of a special event.
Three Midway girls wanted to pay for a trip to a water park. They needed money, so the set about making it. They were going to make it the old fashioned way. They wanted to earn it. However, they didn't get a business license, a peddler's permit, or a food permit. That is a $50 per day cost, or $180 per year according to Fox-5 in Atlanta that reported this vigilance of local police officers.
You can make a fortune selling parking spots outside the US Open, but don't even dream of setting up a lemonade stand. A county inspector ordered the Marriott and Augustine kids to shut down the stand they set up on Persimmon Tree Rd, right next to Congressional. And after they allegedly ignored a couple of warnings, the inspector fined their parents $500.
Police closed down a lemonade stand in Coralville last week, telling its 4-year-old operator and her dad that she didn't have a permit. An officer told Abigail Krutsinger's father Friday that she couldn't run the stand as RAGBRAI bicyclers poured into Coralville. A city ordinance says food vendors must apply for a permit and get a health inspection. Abigail's dad, Dustin Krutsinger, said the ordinance and its enforcers are going too far if they force a 4-year-old to abandon her lemonade stand.
A 12-year-old girl and her little brother were just trying to earn a few dollars for their two hermit crabs when a city code enforcement officer in Texas came and shut them down. The officer told their grandmother that the children needed a permit to sell lemonade, and their grandmother was ticketed for the offense. "I was mad," the 12-year-old said. "I don't understand why someone would want to do that to two kids and their grandma."
So what went sour?
Are the days of lemonade stands fading as the nation faces increased regulation? Are we approaching a time when lemonade stands will no longer grace our country side streets and suburban cul-de-sacs?
NPR's Linton Weeks argues:
"There is no catchier, kitschier symbol of the American spirit than a lemonade stand. It represents not only a way of life, but a way of making a living. It is capitalism and leisure, refreshment and resourcefulness, enterprise and summer skies all squeezed together - stirred in with lemons and sugar and water - and sold by the glass for whatever the market will bear."
It's easy to get down about this recent rash of squashed lemons, but all is not rotten. In the face of governmental good intentions gone goofy, leave it to kids to rise above.
For the students at Beverly Elementary School in suburban Detroit, the days of the lemonade stand are alive and well. They hope to create the world's longest lemonade stand on August 20 not only to put their name in the "Guinness Book of World Records," but to make a difference in the schools by raising money to offset the costs.
The elementary school kids hope that their first big business venture will have a positive impact on their community:
What are your thoughts on the recent rash of lemonade stand shut downs? Share your views in the comments below!