Police Buy Drinks Instead of Shutting Down Kids' Lemonade Stand

CC BY-NC 2.0. bsivad

In a delightful departure from the norm, officers in Newburgh, NY, tell kids they're doing nothing wrong.

School is starting soon, and the Glover kids in Newburgh, New York, wanted to make a few extra bucks before summer was over. So, earlier this week, they set up a lemonade stand on the side of the road during rush hour. Business was good for an hour and a half, at which point some police officers pulled up in front of the stand. The officers were from the Town of Newburgh Police Department and they informed Whitney Glover, mother of the young entrepreneurs, that someone had called the cops on the kids selling lemonade.

Now, in all the other stories I've written about kids' lemonade stands, that's when the cops shut down the stand, tell the kids to get a permit and take a food handling course, and the children go home utterly demoralized that their money-making venture has been derailed by safety-obsessed adults yet again...

But not in this case. The officers proceeded to buy cups of lemonade. One said to Whitney, "Can you believe someone called the cops on kids selling lemonade?" They said the kids weren't doing anything wrong, other than creating a bit of traffic congestion. After posing for a photo with the kids, they went on their way and Whitney posted the picture to Facebook with the following caption:

"Some bitter person decided to call the cops on them. Instead of the officers shutting it down they decided to have a cup themselves. Thanks, Town of Newburgh Police Department."

The post has created a surge of local support for the kids and the lemonade business is now booming. CTV News reports that "dozens of customers have stopped by for lemonade and the children have made hundreds of dollars in only three days."

This is a refreshing story that fills me with hope that maybe, just maybe, local officials are coming to their senses. Instead of punishing kids for getting outside on a lovely summer day and working hard to earn some money, the Newburgh kids' efforts are finally being celebrated. It makes far more sense, after all, to make adults responsible for whatever risks they take by supporting a homegrown lemonade stand, rather than expecting the kids to adhere to unrealistic food-and-safety standards.

As I wrote in 2016, responding to a news story about two little sisters whose Ottawa lemonade stand was shut down because they didn't have a permit (and couldn't purchase one when they offered to), some perspective is desperately needed:

"Surely most of us have had lemonade stands at some point in our lives, or had children who had them, to understand that grubby fingers, wayward insects, and stray bits of dirt are all part of the experience. The incongruity of lemonade stands compared to all other retail ventures is precisely what makes them so delightful to support. Every single time you buy a glass, children look delighted and amazed by the transformation of time and effort into tangible coins in their hand."

The next time you see some kids running a lemonade stand, stop and buy a drink. You're doing more than putting a buck in their pocket; you're making a powerful statement that children should be allowed to explore and push boundaries, feel the satisfaction that comes with having a successful enterprise, and not have to adhere to crippling regulations.