EVERETT, Wash — City officials in Everett are exploring a policy change after a young girl's lemonade stand in Rucker Hill Park was shut down by city workers.
Seven-year-old Elsa LaMaine has been operating her lemonade stand at the public park every summer. She sells drinks and treats and gives half of the proceeds to the local homeless shelter.
But this year, someone complained to the city. Elsa was told to move her stand because people aren't allowed to peddle products for profit in a public park.
Elsa's grandmother, Cherie LeMaine, was incredulous. "I was incensed. Who would take down a kid's lemonade stand?"
The situation angered neighbors who said they were surprised the city would take the time to shut down a lemonade stand while a nearby homeless encampment continues to cause problems in the community.
Everett has come under fire for its homeless response in recent months after instituting a “no sit, no lie” ordinance on a section of Smith Avenue that prohibits people from sitting or lying down for a stretch of 10 blocks.
The ordinance displaced a large homeless encampment forcing many residents to set up different encampments in other parts of the city. Homeless advocates argued the city’s response was inadequate, and residents weren’t offered sufficient avenues into permanent housing.
After KING 5's story last week about the issue, residents started contacting Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin, who actually bought lemonade from Elsa's stand that day.
On Tuesday, Franklin posted a response on Facebook that said the lemonade stand shut down "should not have happened" and that her office, "will work to ensure this doesn't happen in the future."
A spokesman for the mayor told KING 5, "Our legal department is looking into what avenues we can take to address this." However, the mayor's office did not provide further details on what the changes might entail for future lemonade stands on public property.
In the meantime, Elsa's family created a fundraiser with 100% of the proceeds donated going to the Everett Gospel Mission.
"I'm so happy people are responding and are caring about this issue," said Cherie. "We're going from lemons to lemonade because now people are gonna benefit from this. The homeless will get more funds, I'm hoping."
Elsa's family said there are no sour grapes with the city. They just hope to bring more sweetness to the world.
"We just want her to learn that it pays to be giving and it pays to be kind," said Cherie.