Everybody was having a good time on Memorial Day until somebody called the cops on the children selling lemonade to neighbors across the street from a park in Denver.
Denver police wasted no time in shutting the lemonade stand down for operating without a permit, putting a good scare into the kids, including the 6-year-old who took off running and the 4-year-old who started crying.
Jennifer Knowles, mother of the two boys, later learned there is no law or policy requiring kids to obtain a license to set up a temporary stand for neighbors.
She said she encouraged her children to set up a lemonade stand on Monday as part of a summer project where she planned to teach them business and entrepreneurial skills.
She also wanted to teach them how to donate to worthy causes, so they picked a 5-year-old boy from Indonesia whom they were going to help.
But if the kids learned anything, it is to not trust police.
“They got a lot of people coming and praising the boys and telling them that they were doing a great job,” Knowles said. “That was so good for my boys to hear and for them to interact with people they’ve never met before in a business way.”
But just a half-hour into their business venture, police arrived.
“The police officers came over and they said that because my boys and I did not have permits for a lemonade stand they shut us down and we had to stop immediately,” she said. “My boys were crushed. They were devastated. And I can’t believe that happened. I remember as a child I always had lemonade stands and never had to worry about being shut down by the police officers. I mean that’s unheard of.”
It was a scary experience for the kids and something that Knowles says shouldn’t have happened.
“My 6-year-old he saw the police officers coming over and he ran and he hid,” she said. “My 4-year-old came over and was looking at the police officer and heard what he was saying. He started to frown and then he started to cry. And it made me want to cry because they were so upset.”
It was only after they had shut the stand down that she did some research and learned there are no state or city laws prohibiting kids from operating a lemonade stand without a permit. The local media confirmed it.
Denver7 reached out to the permitting department. A spokesperson said there are no rules explicitly prohibiting a lemonade stand, but there are also no rules protecting it.
Communications Program Manager Alexandra Foster said her department does not typically go out to enforce its permitting rules against children. However, if a call is made to police about a certain lemonade stand blocking traffic for instance, the family could be asked to shut the lemonade stand down. She added that temporary stands typically don’t need a permit, but if a stand was set up on a regular basis that it might.
“If our inspectors go to a lemonade stand, it means we’ve received a complaint, and generally complaints stem from high levels of activity or noise that disrupt neighbors,” Foster told Denver7. “So generally, as long as the impact is minimal, we’re happy to let kids have fun in the summer.
So the main question is, why did Denver police enforce a non-existent law?