BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — It was a case of bureaucracy run amok, at least from the perspective of the children operating a lemonade stand for charity near the U.S. Open.
Kids from two families put up the stand on private property – a neighbor’s yard that just happens to be on a corner across from a spectator entrance to Congressional. During Thursday’s first round, they received three visits from county officials, twice with a warning. The third time, a citation was issued for operating the stand without a permit. It carried a fine of up to $500 and required a court appearance.
“Does every kid now that sells lemonade have to register with the county?” Carrie Marriott, whose children were hawking the drinks, asked a county official in an exchange caught on video by WUSA-TV.
The answer: yes. In theory, every lemonade stand in every private yard is supposed to have a permit. It’s a law that’s not usually enforced, but Montgomery County spokeswoman Bonnie Ayers said this particular stand could create a safety hazard in an area where police want to keep vehicular and pedestrian traffic moving during the tournament.
“This was just not a good corner for them to be attracting people,” Ayers said, “and they did not have a permit.”
Since fining kids over a lemonade stand can be a public relations nightmare, a deal was worked out. On Friday, the stand was moved down the street and the citation was rescinded. The county also waived the need for a permit, which would have cost about $38.
A homemade sign at the old location announced: “Grand Reopening: 25 Feet Down.”
“We were pleased there was a resolution,” said Rene Augustine, who has three children manning the stand. “It’s been a lesson for them, probably more in entrepreneurship than philanthropy.”
Augustine said the plan had been to donate 50 percent of the proceeds to Just Tryan It, a nonprofit that helps children with cancer. Now it’s all going to charity.
The stand is more elaborate than most. There’s a canopy and plenty of coolers of bottled lemonade. By mid-afternoon, the children had raked in a good haul, including a $250 check from a man who heard of their plight.
“That was very uplifting to the kids,” Augustine said, “because yesterday was kind of a tough day for them.”