Coralville police shut down lemonade stands during RAGBRAI

Ordinance designed to protect riders' health, but one parent says it went too far

Four year old Abigail Krutsinger holds a cup of lemonade while her father, Dustin Krutsinger, sits at her lemonade stand
Four year old Abigail Krutsinger holds a cup of lemonade while her father, Dustin Krutsinger, sits at her lemonade stand on the front lawn of the family's home at 1005 20th Avenue in Coralville on Monday, August 1, 2011. (Matt Nelson/The Gazette)

Police in Coralville shut down at least three lemonade stands run by children over RAGBRAI weekend.

According to Dustin Krutsinger of Coralville, police shut down his 4-year-old daughter's stand after just 30 minutes. Krutsinger said the officer told his wife "this isn't the first time I've had to do this."

Krutsinger said his daughter was selling lemonade for 25 cents a glass, and had made less than $5. According to the city of Coralville, 4-year-old Abigail Krutsinger was in violation of a two-day ordinance that required all vendors to have permits when RAGBRAI rolled into town.

Josh Schamberger, president of the Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the ordinance was passed to protect riders from possible health risks. Similar ordinances have been adopted in other host towns for years, he said. Now Schamberger said he fears that the work of 500 volunteers may be forgotten, and lemonade stand shutdowns will be remembered.

Krutsinger said he understands why the city drew the line, but thinks they took it too far.

"If the line is drawn to the point where a 4-year-old eight blocks away can't sell a couple glasses of lemonade for 25 cents, than I think the line has been drawn at the wrong spot," Krutsinger said.

A mother of six also said her kids had their lemonade stand on 18th Avenue shut down after just 20 minutes. Bobbie Nelson said she laughed when a police officer told her that a permit to sell lemonade would cost $400.

“The kids were devastated,” Nelson said. “They just cried and didn’t understand why.”

Nelson said her 4-year-old and 6-year-old sons were the driving force behind the stand. She said they stayed up late to work on signs to advertise, and that they “had a hard time sleeping” the night before.

“They didn’t know what was going on, they just thought their signs weren’t good enough,” Nelson said.

Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth said the city was only trying regulate hundreds of vendors in order to stay up to code with the county health department.

“The question is who do you enforce it against, and who do you not?” said Hayworth.

A phone call to Coralville Police Cheif Barry Bedford wasn’t immediately returned Tuesday.

Mitch Gross, a member of the Coralville City Council, said he believes the city will learn a lesson from this. Gross said he expects future ordinances to apply only for vendors who set out to “make a profit.”“It was never our intent to shut down kid’s lemonade stands,” Gross said.  “We never really thought about it.”

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.