Lemonade Stand – Civics Lesson

Dominic Serino (left), 9, and Ryan Decker, 11, were forced to pack up their lemonade stand at Salem Common on Saturday.

Dominic Serino (left), 9, and Ryan Decker, 11, were forced to pack up their lemonade stand at Salem Common on Saturday. (Globe Photo / Zara Tzanev)

When life hands you lemons…
…get license, sheepish police tell boys

By Kay Lazar and Erika Lovley, Globe Correspondents | August 3, 2005

SALEM — They may have been squeezed out of the lemonade business, but two Salem boys say they are not bitter.

Dominic Serino, 9, and his neighbor, Ryan Decker, 11, were forced Saturday to shut down their lemonade stand at Salem Common after an employee of a nearby sausage vendor called police, complaining that the boys were hurting his sales.

The budding entrepreneurs had to call it quits, under orders by some reluctant police officers. The boys, after all, did not have a license, and rules are rules. The two packed up and trudged home. But they said yesterday that they remain fans of the sausage man.

”I have bought his sausages a few times, and they were really good,” Decker said.

The lemonade standoff started when a longtime employee of sausage vendor Kevin Kefalas called police. The worker, Jarrod Clowery, said the brouhaha has been blown out of proportion. Clowery said he has taken a lot of heat since Saturday and is getting icy stares around Salem.

”I regret ever calling the police,” Clowery said. ”I have a 3-year-old son myself. I know how it is.”

Clowery said he simply wanted police to ask the boys to move their stand — he estimated it to be about 50 feet from Kefalas’s stand — to a different location, perhaps to a popular basketball court nearby, where the two operations wouldn’t be competing. The episode was first reported in yesterday’s Salem News.

”I didn’t tell the police, ‘Listen, throw these kids out of here,’ ” Clowery said. ”I am superapologetic. I just didn’t want them to be within direct line of sight. It’s a tourist area. We spend big money for the spot.”

Salem police Officer Dana Mazola, who had to break the news to the boys Saturday, said that when he arrived on the scene and saw the two wide-eyed lemonade purveyors, he called his boss.

”I called the sergeant down to the scene because I didn’t feel like kicking these two kids out, and I asked him the situation, and he said they needed a vendor’s license,” Mazola said.

At that point, Mazola said, one of the boys’ fathers, who was also there, asked about the cost of a license. When Mazola said he didn’t know, the man then asked Mazola if they could set up outside the Common. A quick consultation with the sergeant returned an unhappy verdict: No license, no stand.

”It’s two little kids selling lemonade,” Mazola said. ”If I get a call like that tomorrow, I’ll let someone else take it.”

The boys sold their brew, made from powder, for 50 cents a cup. Ryan’s mother, Angela Decker, described the concoction as ”the best in town.” She said the two youngsters may just make another stab at it, legally, of course.

”I have talked to Ryan about ‘the law is the law’ and you have to abide by that,” Angela Decker said.

She said the parents were using the stand to help teach the boys the basics of running a business, but the lemonade controversy created a real-life civics lesson for them, too. Now, she said, they will help the boys explore the option of applying to the city for a waiver from a license, which typically costs about $2,000.

”We don’t want the boys to give up,” she said. ”It’s about doing the right thing and doing it right.”



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