Mayor Walsh to Attend ‘Lemonade Day’ Workshop for Young Entrepreneurs

Boston, MA--4/16/2014--Mayor Martin J. Walsh (cq) is interviewed, on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, about his first 100 days in office. Photos by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff Topic: 17walsh Reporter: Andrew Ryan, Meghan Irons
Mayor Martin J. Walsh is interviewed, on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, about his first 100 days in office.
Pat Greenhouse / The Boston Globe

Lemonade Day Boston seeks to encourage entrepreneurship in young people using the most classic kid-business venture of all time – the lemonade stand.

In preparation of the May 3 event, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters will hold a workshop to help young volunteers design and build their lemonade stands. Mayor Martin J. Walsh will attend the workshop, which takes place on Wednesday, April 23 at 1:30 p.m.

On Lemonade Day, mentors teach basic business skills while helping kids start and run their own lemonade stands. Launched in Houston in 2007, the event has spread to 36 cities in the US and Canada. Former Babson College president Len Schlesinger spearheaded the campaign to bring Lemonade Day to Boston.

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Participants learn how to turn a profit. They also learn how to save money and give back to their communities. Fostering an entrepreneurial spirit in young people makes sense.

Does Walsh’s participation indicate that his administration won’t be taking a hard line on kids operating unlicensed businesses? In recent years, kids in other Massachusetts communities have seen their entrepreneurial efforts squashed by local regulators.

Every year, sixth-grader Eliza Westbury sold lemonade and baked goods to Boston Marathon spectators from a stand located at the end of her driveway in Hopkinton. In 2012, she planned to donate proceeds to a Relay for Life fundraiser, but local health officials shut her operation down because she lacked a permit. In 2005, two Salem boys were forced to close up shop when a local sausage vendor complained to police that their lemonade stand was hurting his sales.

While shutdowns of kid-run concession stands are still rare, it may come as a shock to some that local governments might ever expect 9-year-olds to apply for permits to sell lemonade. Will Walsh hold lemonade stands to the same standards as he would other unlicensed businesses and require young entrepreneurs to apply for permits?

“We do not require it, nor do we enforce it,” Walsh’s press assistant Gabrielle Farrell said. “Especially if it’s just neighborhood kids.”

The city does, however, require temporary food service permits from vendors at large public events.

No word on whether adults operating unlicensed lemonade stands will also get a free pass.