San Diego Kids Raised $7,500 at Lemonade Stand to See Pope in Philly

They arrived in an R.V. on Wednesday, but they may not get to fulfill their dream.

Aaron Miranda and four of his five kids at their lemonade stand in California.

Aaron Miranda and four of his five kids at their lemonade stand in California.

When San Diego residents Aaron and Monica Miranda heard last year that Pope Francis would be heading to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families, the husband and wife, who self-describe as “strong Catholics,” thought it would be wonderful to bring their five kids to see him. But Aaron doesn’t make a lot of money — he’s a drywall installer and says he “didn’t have a great financial year” in 2014 — and Monica hasn’t worked outside of the home in years. And so their kids decided to set up an old-fashioned lemonade stand outside their home. Only it wasn’t so easy.

We’ve all heard crazy stories about municipalities cracking down on the seemingly innocuous American tradition of the lemonade stand, and their city in California was no different — there was a lot of red tape.

“The police in our neighborhood don’t let us do anything,” Aaron laments. “So we had to get a license, we went to the health department, we had to get a commissary.”

He says he spent about $800 on the process, just to be able to let his kids sell lemonade legally. But it paid off.

“We told people why we were selling the lemonade, and people just started buying the stuff,” Aaron says, still sounding surprised. “We went to fairs, and the kids did all the work. We got deals on lemons. They kept selling and selling, and the kids kept track of all the finances on a chart.”

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Once sales hit $4,500, he called an RV company and made a reservation for a vehicle that would accommodate the family of seven — their kids range in ages from two to ten — plus Aaron’s goddaughter, who is 16.

And soon enough, the kids had raised $7,500 — every penny of it from their fledgling company, which they called, appropriately enough, Homemade Lemonade.

When the Mirandas booked the trip and reserved the RV, they were, like the rest of us,under the impression that if you wanted to actually see the pope, you’d probably just have to show up (very) early and wait in line — maybe even camp out all night.

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But then at the beginning of September, the city announced that attendees would have to be holding tickets, which would be offered for free starting on September 8th, just three days from the Mirandas’ departure from San Diego. And so the couple went online to order tickets.

“But everything on the website just kind of froze up,” says Aaron, and the family didn’t get any tickets. Still, they decided to keep the faith, and they left their house as planned on September 11th, posting a video about their lemonade stand a couple of days before departure:

As they drove from San Diego to El Paso to Dallas to Memphis to Washington D.C. to New York, and, finally, to Philadelphia, parking the RV in Wal-Mart lots along the way to save money, they came to realize that people were selling their pope tickets on Craigslist and eBay.

“And that’s not right,” Aaron says. “You don’t pay money for a mass. If it were a dollar, I wouldn’t buy it. You can’t buy a mass. It’s totally beyond money. That is the wrong lesson to teach my kids.”

The Mirandas arrived in Philadelphia late on Wednesday night, still unsure what the future holds for them.

“When I told my kids that people are paying for the tickets, they got disappointed,” says Aaron. “And when we arrived here in Philly, we see the roads getting blocked off, and I thought, ‘How are we going to do this? How is it even possible?'”

As of Thursday afternoon, he said that they were just going to get up at 2 a.m. on Sunday and hope for the best. And say a prayer.

“But the chances are, we’re not going to see the pope say mass,” he sighs. “I’m upset that money got involved and that these tickets could have gone to people that really want to go to mass.”

Only one thing is for certain at this point: It’s back in the R.V. on Monday.

“Gotta get these kids back to school,” Aaron says.