McHENRY – A group of McHenry County girls had some of the joy squeezed from their charity lemonade stand Saturday.
A health inspector from the McHenry County Department of Health shut down the Lemonade Brigade's stand for about 20 minutes, citing concerns about the lack of a canopy and hand washing station, parent Chrissy Christiansen said.
“The kids looked so scared,” Christiansen said. “They thought we were breaking laws.”
However, health department officials asserted that an inspector never closed the stand. Rather, spokeswoman Debra Quackenbush said a new inspector had questions about whether stands run by children required permits.
The girls, who have raised more than $30,000 by offering cups of lemonade for $1, were selling four flavors of lemonade in McHenry's Veterans Memorial Park. The weekend's stand will benefit Lakemoor resident Savanna Suberla, a 17-year-old with a disease that causes noncancerous tumors to form inside her body.
Other children throughout McHenry County held lemonade stands at the same time as part of the group's Worldwide Lemonade Stand, an effort to make their movement spread.
About 1 p.m., Christiansen said, a health inspector approached the booth where Aubrey Hennig, 12, of McHenry, Sammi Parrish, 13, of Woodstock, Christiansen and her mother, Maura Kirchner, stood. Lake in the Hills 8-year-old Kailyn Fanning, another core member of the group, was talking to people in the park.
The inspector closed the stand because it wasn't covered and did not have a hand washing station, Christiansen said. The inspector also threatened a $70 fine in order for the group to obtain a permit and cover a late fee.
“(The girls are) very used to people coming up to them and giving them amazing support,” Christiansen said. “That took them by surprise. We had to tell them it was going to be OK and we can fix this.”
Sympathetic to the inspector's concerns, Christiansen said she left to retrieve a 5-gallon jug and soap that could be used for customers to wash their hands.
Christiansen said Kirchner called a few minutes later to say the health inspector had reversed her position and decided not to issue a fine after consulting a senior staff member. The lemonade stand could stay open because children were running it, Christiansen recalled the health inspector explaining, and would be exempt from health department regulations in the future.
Quackenbush said the inspector never shut down the stand. She said a newer staff member was performing a required permit check Saturday. McHenry bike shop Bike Haven was using the park for its annual Pedal to the Park Tent Sale.
When the inspector encountered the lemonade stand, the staff member had to consult a senior staff member about the permit requirements, Quackenbush said.
The senior staff member clarified that no permits were required for a stand run by children, Quackenbush said. She added there were no fines levied against the stand.
"We don't shut down kid's run lemonade stands," Quackenbush said. "A kid's run lemonade stand would never be shut down."
But Christiansen said the sudden halt meant the girls had to turn away at least 10 customers, including a little boy she said looked younger than 5 years old. But overall, the group was still able to raise $1,850 through the weekend, Christiansen said, adding some of that money came from people who donated money during the brief closure.
“People understood, and they were still amazing," Christiansen said."They said they wanted to donate. They were still very supportive.”