Children's lemonade stand briefly shut down by health department

John Garcia Image
Tuesday, June 9, 2015

McHENRY COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- Some children in McHenry County say their lemonade stand was temporarily shut down by county health officials.

The girls have a pretty lucrative lemonade stand with proceeds that help others.

The idea was born during a sleepover when the girls were bored, brainstorming ideas for what to do. And within months, their lemonade stand was bringing in donations for children and young adults in financial need, usually because of serious illness.

"It's really helpful to other kids and it's really actually fun too," said Kaitlyn Fanning of the Lemonade Brigade.

They have been operating as the Lemonade Brigade since last August and, so far, have raised more than $30,000 for various children in need.

Last weekend, they set up at a fair in McHenry when they got a big surprise - a visit from the McHenry County Health Department. They say the inspector told them they needed a canopy and hand washing station as well as a permit.

"I was kind of scared, I thought that we were breaking laws," said Samantha Parish of the Lemonade Brigade.

The girls say they stopped selling for about 20 minutes before the health inspector reversed her position and let them be. A spokesperson for the health department says the stand was not shut down or fined; they say it was a new inspector who checked with a supervisor and was told no permit was needed because the stand was run by children.

The girls say when people thought they were being shut down, they got a couple hundred dollars in donations.

For the girls, who range from 8 to 12-years-old, it's been a great experience.

"The community is just so supportive to us and all the donations we've been getting and how much we've raised for some of these people, it's amazing," said Aubrey Henning of the Lemonade Brigade.

"We're learning a lot, the ins and outs of it, and it has gotten a bit bigger than we had anticipated but that is not a bad thing at all," said Chrissy Christiansen, a mother.

What initially was a scary experience for some of them, they say, turned into a positive. They say the attention the situation has gotten will help them raise more money for those in need.