Health Inspectors Shut Down Little Girl's Lemonade Stand

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All Julie Murphy wanted to do was sell some lemonade. The 7-year-old had gotten the idea for a stand from Olivia, her favorite cartoon pig.

The little girl made a list of supplies, drew a colorful poster with a person saying "Yummy" and, with her mom's help, finally set up her first stand at a Portland street fair last week. Everything was going great. Until, that is, a "lady with a clipboard" showed up.

That lady, if you hadn't already figured it out, was from the health department. And she wasn't coming to buy a cold drink.

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AP Photo/Torsten Kjellstrand - The Oregonian
Julie Murphy, prior to having her illusions of a fair and just world being shattered.
Technically, any lemonade stand in Oregon must be licensed. But inspectors, being mostly reasonable people, generally turn the other cheek when it comes to little kids trying to make a buck. Especially kids like Murphy, who was using hand sanitizer between cups to make sure her product was clean, and who is undeniably adorable. I mean, just look at her! She's so full of sunshine and mirth! Who could stand to disappoint her?!

To answer that question: the clipboard lady, that's who. She told Murphy's mom that she'd either have to pack up or face a $500 fine. People at the booths next to them told them to start giving away the lemonade for free, and encouraged the crowd to come support the pair with donations.

That's when business really started to pick up. And with more attention came more inspectors.

Soon there were two people with clipboards, and a fairly angry mob shouting at them. "It was a very big scene," Murphy's mom told the AP.

Murphy and her mom packed up and left soon after, with the little girl in tears telling her mom that it was "a bad day." But the county employee who oversees the two inspectors says his people made the right move.

"When you go to a public event and set up shop, you're suddenly engaging in commerce," he said. "The fact that you're small-scale I don't think is relevant."

For the record, we're not sure how King County's Health Department handles cute little girls hawking cold drinks. Which is why we have a call in to them now. We'll let you know what the policy is locally when we find out.

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