In a nation rampant with worry about Casey Anthony’s next move and the prospect of up to 20,000 NASA workers losing their jobs in Florida after the shuttle program ends, who would have thought that three little girls from the tiny city of Midway having their lemonade stand shut down would cause such a firestorm of anger? The girls, sisters Kasity Dixon and Skylar Roberts and their cousin, Tiffany Cassin, were ordered June 29 to pack up the stand, which they’d set up in front of their Midway home.
I have tried to look at this story objectively — as any good journalist would — and have come to the conclusion that no matter how you squeeze the lemons, the situation still ends on a bit of a sour note. From what I have read and seen in news reports, broadcasts and website postings, emotions are running high, and the Midway Police Department hasn’t found favor with many.
During a recent newscast, Midway Police Officer Duvale Page Sr. told a reporter that he has answered numerous disrespectful phone calls. One caller even reportedly told Page he hopes the police station burns down with all the officers inside. In my opinion, that kind of over-the-top treatment is unwarranted.
I also feel that many people are missing a very important point in this story. To highlight that point, let me recap the events so far.
The sisters and their cousin asked Kasity and Skylar’s mother, Amy Roberts, to take them to Splash in the Boro Waterpark. Since the family had just returned from a vacation, funds for a day trip were not available. Amy told the girls that if they earned money to pay for tickets, she would take them. So the enterprising girls pooled their pennies and bought lemonade ingredients.
They set up their stand and on their first day in business made $30, including a buck or two from Midway police officers, according to news reports. The next day, however, things went sour when Kasity, Skylar and Tiffany were ordered by police to shut down their operation because they did not have a business license, a peddler’s permit or a food permit.
Now this is where I may upset a few readers but, in all honesty, Chief Kelli Morningstar was within her rights to close down the illegal enterprise. For that, I have to give her credit. She simply was enforcing codes and ordinances put in place by the Midway City Council — an entity that should accept the blame for all the grief the department has endured since this story broke.
Midway Mayor Clemontine Washington said she has conferred with the city attorney and asked that he review the city ordinance and the actions taken by the Midway Police Department.
“Based upon his findings, I will take the appropriate action so that we may bring closure to an unfortunate situation,” she said in a statement issued to the Courier last week.
Let’s hope they do come up with a solution. Instead of worrying about three little girls with a lemonade stand, Midway’s officers should get back to the business of protecting the community. They also should be commended for upholding the law, no matter how senseless it may seem to the rest of us.
Amy Roberts needs to be commended for actually being a parent. Not once did she think her attempt to teach her girls about responsibility would spur such uproar. When Amy heard the police order the girls to close their stand, she didn’t argue with the officers. She simply told the girls to pack it up because they were not going to break the law. She taught three little girls not to take handouts and, through her actions, she showed them to respect authority.
Are there any winners or losers as a result of this incident? Well, yes, there are. The girls did get to go to the water park with tickets donated by media outlets. They were chauffeured to Atlanta to appear on a national morning show. They even made a quick trip to Richmond Hill to sell their now-famous lemonade at the farmers market. They clearly came out on top.
Unfortunately, the Midway Police Department will have to lick its wounds and work to rebuild its image, but the officers should take pride in the fact that they upheld the law — a law they didn’t create and more than likely didn’t have a say in, but a law nonetheless. It’s the dollar-driven politicians who should be ashamed of themselves.
Now let’s put this lemonade debacle behind us and get back to wondering about Casey Anthony’s next move.