The Midway girls whose lemonade stand was shut down by the police two weeks ago are riding out a tide of attention.
“I’m surprised that it went this far,” said Kasity Dixon, 14. As the Courier first reported July 6, Kasity, her 10-year-old sister, Skylar Roberts, and their cousin, Tiffany Cassin, were told to shut down their front-yard lemonade stand after two days in business. The girls had been trying to earn money for a trip to Splash in the Boro Waterpark.
After the Courier first reported the news, Savannah ABC affiliate WJCL picked up the story and it since has been flung into the national media spotlight with footage of the girls splashed across CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.
And the girls’ mother, Amy Roberts, said she would tell her story again.
“My whole thing with even telling my story in the Coastal Courier was just to see other people in the area’s opinions. I had no idea that it was going to go this far — none,” she said.
“I told my story, and I told it honest, and the girls told their story, and it was honest, and (Morningstar) told her story, and it was honest,” Roberts said, referring to the Courier’s previous account.
Speaking on behalf of the city of Midway and its police department, Mayor Clemontine Washington issued a written statement in response to the Courier’s inquiries Tuesday.
“In these times, it often seems that common sense is trampled upon by ‘following the regulations’ or ‘following the law.’ As mayor of this great city, I took an oath to follow the law,” she wrote. “Know that I will not be silent about the right of the citizens of the city of Midway to pursue their unalienable rights.”
Washington has conferred with the city attorney and asked that he review the city ordinance and the actions taken by the Midway Police Department, she wrote.
“I have also instructed him to attempt to determine all of the facts from both sides prior to any decision by the mayor and council,” she added. “Based upon his findings, I will take the appropriate action so that we may bring closure to an unfortunate situation.”
As the story picked up attention Friday afternoon, a man from Fox’s New York City office called and asked the Roberts if he could arrange an interview with the girls.
“When the guy from Fox called me, I was completely dumbfounded,” Roberts said. “He asked to fly us all to New York and I told him that I had to work the next day. It wasn’t until I got off the phone with him that I realized what it meant.”
Once Roberts realized that the request was for a national television spot, she said the entire family was elated. Instead of flying the family to New York, the network ended up providing transportation for Roberts, Skylar, Kasity, Tiffany and Tiffany’s mother, Alicia Mixell, to Atlanta, where they appeared via satellite on Saturday morning’s “Fox and Friends.”
Skylar, Kasity, Tiffany and Roberts were featured in a three-minute, 10-second segment at about 9:20 a.m. Saturday. In interviews with the Courier, each of the girls admitted to feeling nervous and excited.
“When we walked in that Fox studio, their eyes just lit up,” Roberts said. “It was so cute.”
“Well, I thought it was a dream at first,” Skylar said about finding out she was going to be on TV. “My cousin, Tiffany, and my sister, Kasity, were happy about it.”
She has not yet received feedback from her friends, but Skylar said she hopes that no one thinks she, Kasity and Tiffany are crazy.
“That was probably the most nervous thing I’ve ever done,” Roberts said. “It’s really, really hard to talk to a camera with nobody standing there, having to just look straight forward and listen in your earpiece as you look off in space, talking.”
Since the story landed on TV screens, the girls have received an outpouring of support, with donors contacting both the Coastal Courier and WJCL hoping to help the girls get to Splash in the Boro.
“I can’t even count the amount of comments and responses,” Roberts said.
The family has accepted a total of eight tickets to the water park, four from WOAH 106.3-FM and four from WJCL.
Another donor offered the girls a weekend stay at Wilderness at the Smokies, an indoor/outdoor water park resort in Sevierville, Tenn.
“We thought it was a fun story, and we wanted to help in some way,” said Shane Rhyne, digital strategies manager for Ackermann Public Relations, which represents the water park. Though Roberts has emphasized in interviews that she wanted to teach the girls how to earn their money, Rhyne said the effort was noble enough to merit the reward.
Roberts is unsure yet whether she will accept the donation, she said.
Another business, Calypso Lemonade, has offered to supply the girls with a stock of lemonade to sell and a week’s worth of merchant licenses, according to Chris Selinger, area manager for the Southeast.
“We’re a small, Midwestern-based company, and this is what America’s about — it’s people helping people,” he said. “What better way to come into the Savannah market than with these girls as ambassadors for our product?”
The company is slated to introduce its products, which includes 13 flavors of lemonade, to the Savannah market in the beginning of August, he said. He hopes that the girls can begin selling their eight flavors — old-fashioned lemonade, peach lemonade, triple melon, strawberry lemonade, blue raspberry, tropical mango, black cherry and kiwi — in advance of the Savannah roll-out.
“What really touched us the most is you’ve got young, teenage girls that are out there in the heat of the summer, trying to earn money … we just wanted to show them that hard work pays off,” he said. “These are the kind of girls who are going to be in the boardrooms of America in the next 20 years, and we just want to make sure they have a great taste in their mouths.”
One thing Roberts knows is that she does not want to accept cash, she said. She’s considering telling insistent donors to share their money with the Liberty Humane Shelter instead.
“I know they could really use it, and my kids both love animals — and I’d rather people just send their money straight there if they’re insisting on donating something,” she said.