A more wholesome American scene could hardly be imagined: a bunch of kids selling lemonade on a summer’s day.
But local authorities in Montgomery County, Md., saw things differently. They shut down the kids’ venture and ended up fining their parents $500.
The Marriott and Augustine kids had set up their stand Thursday right next to the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, where the U.S. Open golf tournament has been taking place–bringing thousands of thirsty fans to the neighborhood. The kids planned to send 50 percent their profits to a charity that fights pediatric cancer.
But a Montgomery County inspector said the children needed a vendors’ license to run the stand, according to a report from local TV station WUSA9. And after the stand proprietors allegedly ignored a few warnings, the inspector slammed the kids’ parents with a $500 fine.
“Does every kid who sells lemonade now have to register with the county?” Carrie Marriott, the mother of one of the would-be entrepreneurs, asked the inspector.
“Cute little kids making five or ten dollars is a little bit different than making hundreds,” replied the inspector. “You’ve got coolers and coolers here.”
“To raise money for pediatric cancer,” Marriott replied.
The county’s director of permitting, Jennifer Hughes, said it’s illegal to run any lemonade stand without a vendors’ license. Inspectors don’t usually go looking for them, but this one was especially large, she said. She added that other vendors have been told they can’t operate near the golf tournament because of safety and traffic concerns.
The kids don’t get it. “I don’t agree, I think the county is wrong,” said one in response. “We’re sending the money to charity,” another pointed out.
The county’s hardline stance is even more of a head-scratcher given that it has doled out scores of permits to the kids’ neighbors to let golf fans park on their lawns. Some locals are charging as much as $60 per car for the day, and have reportedly raked in tens of thousands thanks to congressional golf events.
To Carrie Marriott, the whole thing is about more than just a dispute over a lemonade stand. “The message to kids is: There’s no American dream,” she said.