- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2011

Neighborhood lemonade stands have for generations served as a training ground for budding young capitalists. Boys and girls eager for their first taste of success have recently watched their dreams dissolve as rulebook-toting authoritarians demand little Timmy and Sally show their permits and papers or face the wrath of the state. Americans are fed up with this nonsense. It’s time for a little lemonade liberation.

On Aug. 20, over a hundred people have so far pledged to gather on the Capitol’s west lawn to protest the petty bureaucracy that thinks threatening children with fines is a proper use of taxpayer resources. The organizers promise that they are ready to go to jail for the ultimate act of civil disobedience: offering a refreshing cup of lemonade on a sultry afternoon on the nation’s front lawn for 10 cents.

Close to 2,000 have signed up on Facebook for nationwide pro-lemonade events after a father of two set up a page advertising “Lemonade Liberation Day.” Organizer Robert Fernandes expected just a few of his friends would be interested, but in just a week his lemonadefreedom.com website has attracted far more attention than he expected. “I basically just put it out there and it took off,” the father of two told The Washington Times. “To me, something as simple as a lemonade stand is an important thing for a young child. It teaches them a really big lesson in life - setting goals and seeing a project through.”

Mr. Fernandes has charted incidents where police and code inspectors were dispatched to stop kids from selling lemonade, cookies and similar treats in California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin. “I think that’s the wrong message to send kids,” he said. “It’s telling them just go in the back and play video games. Don’t be a productive member of society. We don’t need you.”

Earlier this year, a busybody with the Philadelphia Department of Health closed a lemonade stand that was raising money for kids’ cancer research because it lacked a “hand-washing station” and the kids had no permit. This had been one of the thousands of stands operating as part of the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which was started in 2000 when little Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who had been diagnosed with cancer, set up in her front yard to raise money to fight the disease. “I would really have had a problem if somebody had tried to shut her down,” Liz Scott, told The Washington Times. “I would not have been a happy mother.”

Fortunately, local cops were among those eager to buy a cup of lemonade from Alex more than a decade ago. Alex’s Lemonade Stands have since spread throughout the country, and aside from a few isolated incidents, the foundation’s well-organized stands are rarely hassled by the maze of city, county and state agencies with jurisdiction, although some areas do insist on permits. The resulting refreshment sales have generated over $12 million to find a cancer cure because one girl’s dream wasn’t crushed early on by an overzealous bureaucrat.