Children have the biggest hearts in the world and it’s always uplifting to see them take the initiative to do something for others. They create a hope and a dream, not only for themselves but for others. It’s very discouraging to learn that bureaucracy can stampede and crush an idea born out of caring hearts and minds.
The idea of a Lemonade Stand near the U.S. Open golf tournament in Maryland was brought about by a group of young children. These children wanted to donate half of their profits to help fight pediatric cancer. This was a proud moment for the parents of those children and preparations were made to make their idea a reality.
Reality is sometimes difficult, however. A Montgomery County Inspector was not pleased with their enterprise, and gave them several warnings to remove the lemonade stand. The problem with the stand was a permit had not been applied for. Imagine the horror of the parents to realize their children’s dream was about to be crushed. The inspector issued a fine of $500on the parents for not heeding his warnings.
This created a furor within the community and an apology was not forthcoming from the County. Rules are rules, and this little enterprise, however endearing, could bring in other non-permit holding vendors. Of course, this means a loss to the County because the cost of a permit is $300. In essence, the entire incident has caused a PR disaster for the County officials.
A similar incident occurred during Girl Scout cookie sales in Savannah in February 2011. It is an honor to be able to set up a cookie booth in front of the Juliette Low home to sell cookies. This year, the City would not allow them to sell on the sidewalk in front of the historic home because it is a “public” sidewalk. The City Ordinance states “No person shall use the streets, sidewalks, lanes or squares of the city for private purposes of any sort.
On March 1st, the ruling was reversed and the Acting City Manager was one of the first customers to stock up on cookies when the booth sale opened back up. Girl Scout officials used this opportunity to strengthen their mission to “build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place”.
Unfortunately, the Montgomery County officials did not reverse their decision, but they did come to a compromise with the parents and the children. The Lemonade Stand could continue, but at a safer position some distance away from the very busy intersection at the entrance of the golf tournament. The officials also waived the $500 fine that had been imposed.
An idea started from the mind of a child, and was pinched by an official, and the dream was crashing around the feet of the children. If only the officials could have taken a moment to review the situation before issuing the fine, the simple solution of moving the stand could have saved the County some embarrassment and the uproar from the parents.
The children now donate 100 percent of their profits to a race to benefit pediatric cancer research.
Article first published as Standoff Between Lemonade Stand Entrepreneurs & County Officials Resolved on Technorati on June 25, 2011