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City-permit rule for mistletoe sale, but not begging, makes 11-year-old an advocate for legal change

Posted Dec 4, 2013 2:30 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Following in her father's footsteps, an 11-year-old girl from suburban Portland, Ore., cut and bagged mistletoe on a recent trip to an uncle's farm and sold beribboned bags for $4 each at Portland Saturday Market last week. Her intention was to earn money to pay for braces.

But as Madison Root soon learned from a private security guard at the market, a permit is required to sell at any city park under the municipal code, reports the Oregonian. Presumably due to constitutional concerns, there is no such requirement imposed on those who beg for money. However, Madison couldn't even give the holiday decoration away and ask for a donation, the security guard said.

"We totally understand the rule,” her father, Ashton Root, told the newspaper. “But here she was selling mistletoe and all around her were people playing music for money, or asking for money for pot, or just spare change. We’re allowing people to beg, but not to sell; it seems like there should be some sort of exception.”

Others apparently are sympathetic to the fledgling entrepreneur's situation: One man called and ordered 30 bags of mistletoe and the owner of a Christmas tree farm donated $1,000 to the girl's braces fund, the senior Root said.

Nonetheless, it isn't just about the money, Madison tells the newspaper. That's why she is now working on a speech she plans to give at the same location, near the Skidmore Fountain, along with free mistletoe, this coming Saturday at what she is calling "The Great Kissoff."

“I feel that I can make a statement and possibly make a difference,” she said. “The city laws are supporting begging and are against working.”

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