Lessa's Lemonade Stand perseveres through pandemic

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Lessa’s Lemonade Land recently took a different twist for its 2020 season in Johnston.

Founder Margaret “Peggy” Lessa, in fact, even changed venues for this year’s annual opening as well as using a different format for hiring its many employees who perform such important duties as taking orders, serving and cleaning up.

Lessa’s Lemonade Land has been around for two decades-plus, and it’s always one of the highlights for the June closing of Johnston’s Early Childhood Center.

It’s also the brainchild of Lessa, a veteran and highly respected teacher at the ECC, which for those people not familiar with Johnston Public Schools is the town’s first-ever all day kindergarten located in the same complex as the Nicholas A. Ferri Middle School off 10 Memorial Ave.

“This is a hands-on event which allows children to create, build and go through the steps of opening a business,” Lessa explained. “Through this experience, the children are involved in many educational activities that involve reading, writing, and math and technology research. It ties into all curriculum areas and children who are artistic get a chance to display their drawing skills.”

Moreover, children fill out applications and work with their parents to prepare a resume, design, write job descriptions, price lists and even menus usually for the unique, one-day annual opening of Lessa’s Lemonade Land.

So, because of the COVID-19 crisis, which canceled just about every school event for the final four months of the 2020 academic year, Lessa was forced to hold her opening at Café Vino, located at 235 Greenville Ave. in Johnston, and had follow the state’s restaurant rules and guidelines.

Enthusiasm, though, was at an all-time high, and once the children completed their resumes, they were interviewed for various positions. “This year,” Lessa explained, “everything was done virtually and all the students had to wear masks that I made.”

Perhaps the words on a specially designed graphic, which a student’s parent presented to Lessa, best told the story of the 2020 Lessa’s Lemonade Land.

“It’s nice when you make lemonade out of lemons,” the statement began, “but it’s even nicer when you open up a lemonade stand and share our hope; Lessa’s Lemonade Land 2020: 20-plus years and still going strong!” 

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