Lia Benner wanted to run her own business since she was three years old. Finally, along with business partner Ava Grossl, Benner, now 10, opened the lemonade stand she envisioned Saturday, for Lemonade Day Alaska in Soldotna.
Benner and Grossl’s bright neon green stand, speckled with orange and purple paint splatters was laden with homemade lemon bars, store-bought cinnamon rolls, and two kinds of lemonade.
By early afternoon the entrepreneurs were expertly cashing out their customers, Benner said. Learning to count money was her favorite part of the day, she said.
“It took awhile,” Benner said. “Now it’s coming naturally.”
For this year’s event, more than 80 stands were erected throughout Kenai and Soldotna, Soldotna Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michelle Glaves said.
Lemonade Day is a national organization that has been localized on the Central Kenai Peninsula by the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and the Kenai Chamber of Commerce, Glaves said.
Local businesses teach classes on food handling and managing savings for the event, Glaves said. Home Depot provides free materials for building stands.
Each business must find investors for financial support, and a space to put their stand, Glaves said.
Joshua Tree, his brother Ethan Tree and their cousin Trent Powell co-ran the Lemonade for Heroes stand, neighboring Benner and Grossl in the Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware parking lot.
Two American flags were placed beside their cash jar, and red, white and blue stripes were painted across the tabletop.
The managers of each station are encouraged to save and donate a portion of their profits, and have enough left over to pay back their lenders, Glaves said.
Joshua Tree said he and his coworkers wanted to donate all of their earnings to non-profits that assist veterans. Their great grandfather was a World War II veteran who passed away recently. They wanted to honor him by donating all of their money, he said.
Next to ‘‘Lemonade For Heros’’ Audrey McDonald, Emily Moss and Madison McDonald offered buyers the chance to test out “Laser treated lemonade.” Laser treated water and regular lemonade were also available.
A green canopy covered the mess of wires that transferred energy from a solar panel soaking up the afternoon sun, into the robotic track that moved the lemonade filled paper cup under the different laser beams.
The three business partners all agree laser treated tastes better.