PITTSTON — After pouring a cup of fresh strawberry and pear lemonade into a sugar-rimmed cup, Valerie Nat of Shavertown showed her 5-year-old son Tristan how to garnish the drink with strawberry and lemon slices.
The delicious gourmet concoction was only one of many homemade lemonades vying for the title of “Best-Tasting Lemonade” at the Pittston YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day on Saturday.
The contest was the precursor to this Saturday’s national “Lemonade Day,” an annual event in which children of all ages set up lemonade stands using entrepreneurial skills learned through a community-wide educational program. “We teach the kids to spend some, share some and save some, just like the local entrepreneurs in our community,” said Trish Mosluk, city director of Lemonade Day-NEPA.
Lemonade Day-NEPA started in 2011 when Tristan’s dad and Valerie’s husband, Dale Nat, read a Wall Street Journal article about the national Lemonade Day program, headquartered in Houston. The concept for the program began when a girl, who already owned several pets, asked her dad if she could buy a turtle if she earned the money.
After seeing the valuable lessons his daughter learned while running a lemonade stand that funded the turtle purchase, the girl’s father, Michael Holthouse, decided to teach those lessons to other children. Launched in Houston, the first Lemonade Day was held in 2007. Using a strategic 14-step process, children across the nation now learn how to set up their own lemonade stands by mastering the same principles required to start any company.
Lemonade Day has grown from 2,700 kids in Texas to 150,000 kids in 36 cities across the United States and Canada. Google has partnered with Lemonade Day to assist the participants with marketing and promoting their stands. “The kids get a free website through Google, which encourages them to be creative,” said Nat, an entrepreneur, and also city champion for Lemonade Day. “They are really encouraged to be creative and to stretch their brains.”
Tasting judge Rob Cardone, an instructor in the hotel/restaurant management program at Luzerne County Community College, eyed up the different lemonade recipes, concocted by area children and their families. “There’s a variety,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the creativity in the kids.”
ReferLocal and Pepper Jam founder Kris Jones, who also was one of the contest judges, said entrepreneurism should be taught at an early age. “My son took part in this last year at three-and-a-half,” he said. “It taught him that making money isn’t only about profits. For every dollar earned, a dollar went to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.”
Jones recently traveled to Louisiana and saw a billboard announcing the upcoming Lemonade Day in New Orleans, he said. “Here we are having Lemonade Day in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area. I think it’s kind of cool that Dale brought it here.”