An 11-year-old girl from Portland, Ore. has been told that she can't sell mistletoe to help defray the cost of braces, but she can beg for the money on the city's streets.
According to KATU-TV, Madison Root and her father were selling bags of the hand-cut, hand-wrapped Christmas favorite Saturday morning next to the Skidmore Fountain in downtown Portland, where the city holds a weekly market. Everything was going well until a security guard told her that she had to stop selling due to a city ordinance that bans such activity in a park "except as expressly permitted under the terms of a lease, concession or permit."
The guard then told Madison that she could sell her mistletoe outside the boundaries of the park where the fountain and the market are located, away from the crowds, or she could simply ask for donations to cover the cost of her braces.
"I don't want to beg! I would rather work for something than beg," Madison told KATU reporter Dan Cassuto. "It's crazy. People can get money for pot. But I can't get money for braces. I'm working for this! They're just sitting down on their butts all day asking for pot."
A Portland Parks Bureau spokesman told the station that begging is a form of free speech and is protected by the First Amendment.
One market vendor told the station that she wished an exception to the ordinance could be made for children.
"They should have a caveat for children trying to create options for commerce, especially this time of year," Sharon Steen, who sells ceramic bowls at the market told KATU. "We encourage it. We want them to grow up and be entrepreneurs."