Rhode Island Police Shut Down Lemonade Stand, Citing City Ordinance For Commercial Vendors

Police officers in Newport, Rhode Island, shut down a lemonade stand on Sunday, stating the two children running it were violating a city ordinance set for commercial vendors. The stand was operating along the Cliff Walk, a popular tourist spot. The Cliff Walk Commission put the ordinance in place to keep the location free from the possible litter that sidewalk vendors could create. Though the kids were accepting donations instead of charging for the lemonade, their stand still fell under the ordinance.

Section 5.56.010 (b) in the city’s ordinances states that “…no person shall offer for sale any goods, wares, merchandise, foodstuffs or other articles or substances for sale on the Cliff Walk, either hand-carried, from any vehicle, cart, basket, cooler or other display or carrying device. For the purposes of this section only, a sale shall not only include the transfer of such items for a price but the transfer of such items for a donation, tip or gratuity with the intent of such transfer being the transfer of such items for the payment of financial consideration.”

The children, who were not named, are reported by Fox News to have decided that the law leading to the closing of their lemonade stand needs to be changed. They met with Newport Mayor Henry Winthrop to discuss possible alternatives to the city ordinance that would allow lemonade stands on the Cliff Walk as long as they remain non-commercial.

After what has been called by the Newport Buzz a “fruitful” meeting, Mayor Winthrop invited the children to speak about their ideas at the Cliff Walk Commission that will be held on September 28.

Whether a couple of determined children can change the ordinance will have to be seen in the future. Peter Janaros, chairman of the Cliff Walk Commission told The Newport Daily News that the intent of the ordinance has always been about protecting the Cliff Walk.

“We’re trying to keep it commercial-free,” Janaros said. “We’re trying to keep it nice.”

Police Lt. Frank Rosa has stated that the police department is not out hunting lemonade stands. The department has fielded many calls about the sale of alcohol and food on the Cliff Walk over the years. The removal of the lemonade stand was part of a proactive approach to an ongoing issue, one that was particularly troublesome the previous summer.

Rosa went on the say that upholding ordinances is just part of the quality of life issues that the police department handles. He said that on Sunday the issue just happened to be a lemonade stand.

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