Community in an Uproar After City Shuts Down 7-Year-Old Girl’s Lemonade Stand

Photo: (Photo : Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Coachella)

In Washington, D.C., a community is at odds with their city officials after learning that they shut down a 7-year-old girl's lemonade stand. The little girl set up her temporary shop at the community park because she was trying to raise funds for a local charity.

Elsa LaMaine, who lives in Rucker Hill Park, set up her lemonade stand along with her grandmother, Cherie LaMaine, who also had a makeshift flower shop. However, a park ranger came up to the pair and told the little girl and her grandmother that they had to close because a neighbor complained to the city about their shop.

In a polite way, the park ranger explained that the LaMaines aren't supposed to sell on a public site. Cherie said that the park ranger was nice and even agreed to have his photo taken with them. However, the man still had to enforce his job and insisted that Elsa and Cherie need to leave the park and shut down their business.

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The neighbors found out Elsa and Cherie were no longer in business at the park, triggering an uproar. Members of the community said that the city was quick to order the LaMaines out, but they couldn't handle the homeless sites nearby, which have long been a problem in this Washington neighborhood.

Elsa and Cherie's Fundraising Drive

According to reports, it's not the first time Elsa and Cherie have set up a temporary lemonade stand. It's been a tradition for the pair since Elsa was four years old. Her grandmother has taught her to donate part of her profits from her business to the Everett Gospel Mission, a non-profit organization.

In the past, one of Elsa's high-profile customers was Mayor Cassie Franklin. However, last year, Elsa didn't set up shop due to the COVID-19 lockdown. When they did put up the lemonade stand this year, business wasn't as brisk as fewer people were hanging out at the park. Worse, they were told to cease selling because they were on public property.

But the neighbors said that the homeless have been encroaching in the public property ever since the city imposed a "no sit, no lie" ordinance in the streets. This decision displaced many of their encampment sites, so they've been "living" at various public places in the neighborhood. Cherie even told the ranger that they saw a homeless, naked man in the park.

However, instead of addressing homelessness, which may tie with petty crimes and addiction issues, the neighbors have been upset that the city chose to deal with a helpless little girl and her grandmother.

Elsa Throws a Tea Party

Following the incident, Elsa and Cherie decided to set up the lemonade stand in their backyard. Cherie said that she's proud of how her granddaughter handled the situation because, instead of being disappointed, Elsa decided to hand out Oreos and had an impromptu tea party with the neighbors.

Cherie said that the 7-year-old child always succeeds to make people happy. Meanwhile, she's also waiting for the city to respond to the homeless problem in the community because this presents a more pressing danger to the public. A spokesperson for the city said that they would not comment on the matter.

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