5 Things We Did As Kids That Are Now Illegal
All those iconic summer memories—ice-cream trucks, lemonade stands, lawn darts, and fireworks—it was a time of such carefree summer innocence… or was it? In the time it took for us to grow from kids to adults, many of our favorite summer activities have been criminalized, or come under new regulations. In other cases, it turns out we've been on the wrong side of the (outdated and unenforced) law all along. Here we've separated the legal from the illegal and the dubiously legal.
1.) Berry picking
Despite a bunch of sweet community programs promoting urban fruit foraging, an outdated Seattle city ordinance states that picking fruit on public land is technically illegal. On paper, a blackberry picked from a city bush could result in small fines and even jail time. While the city works on getting the code up to speed, Seattle Parks spokesperson Dewey Potter says, “It’s fine to pick things, but just leave something there for the next person.”
If you want to make sure you're keeping your berry picking legal, here is a list of U-Pick berry farms in the Seattle area.
2.) Lemonade stands
Kids can sell lemonade without a permit in Seattle—as long as they don’t sell too much. “If kids become more entrepreneurial and what they are doing starts to take the shape of a food establishment, we encourage them to give us a call,” said Becky Elias, King County Food Protection Program Manager.
Watch out, because this law has already been enforced. Just ask 7 year old Julie Murphy.
3.) Fireworks and sparklers
Personal use of these festive July 4th explosives are banned in many Puget Sound-area cities, including Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Tacoma and Redmond. Though it is unlikely to be enforced, someone spotted running around with a sparkler in a Seattle park could (in theory) incur a $5,000 fine and a year in jail.
4.) Ice-cream trucks
Ice-cream trucks were illegal in Seattle until five years ago. Cold dairy dessert lovers from around Puget Sound screamed for ice cream, and the city responded with a Street Food Initiative. According to Gary Johnson of the city’s Office of Planning and Community Development, “One of the elements we included in our Street Food Initiative was legalizing the ‘Good Humor Man,’ as we saw the mobile ice-cream vendors as a positive. Prior to the code changes we made, there was no legal way to operate a mobile ice-cream sales vehicle. A vendor needs to get a permit and adhere to conditions.”
Want to hit up an ice-cream truck? Check out this article for a thorough list of Seattle area options.
5.) Lawn darts
Though popular in the 1970s, it turns out that lawn darts are surprisingly lethal. Over a period of eight years in the ’80s, lawn darts sent 6,100 people to the emergency room. Eighty-one percent of those cases involved children 15 or younger, and in half of those cases, the kids were 10 or younger. The U.S. officially banned lawn darts in 1988.
Our fearless days may now be days gone by, but there are still plenty of child-friendly activities that won’t get kids (or parents) in trouble with the law.