No playing without a permit

Girl, 11, raising money for shelter, told to stop violin music at park

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Sarah Hoatson, 11, raised $42.88 for the Kootenai Humane Society by playing her violin Wednesday in Coeur d'Alene's City Park. Hoatson was trying to raise $110, but was stopped by a city employee before she reached her goal due to not having a permit. Sarah, her mother Karen and sister Hannah, 8, delivered the funds Thursday to the Humane Society.

COEUR d'ALENE - When Sarah Hoatson wanted to raise $110 to benefit the Kootenai Humane Society, she knew what to do.

The 11-year-old, violin in hand, headed to Coeur d'Alene City Park on July 4.

"It was a way to play for other people and raise money for something that she loves," said her mom, Karen Hoatson.

For an hour or so starting Wednesday morning, the Coeur d'Alene girl, her mom watching, performed songs while stationed near the walking path. She also set up a display of pictures and words to explain "My Dog Project," and information about the KHS Adopt a Cage program.

With swarms of folks in town for the holiday, it wasn't long before she had collected $42.88 and was on her way to that $110 goal.

Not so fast.

That's when a city employee had to say, no more.

The staffer explained to the Hoatsons that one can't just begin playing music and asking for money, even to benefit a nonprofit, on city property. A permit, they were told, was needed from City Hall.

Bottom line, she couldn't be there.

The Hoatsons, while happy to cooperate and do as directed, were still surprised.

"Everybody else just smiled and went by, so it was just that guy," Sarah Hoatson said.

Karen Hoatson, also a musician, said her daughter just wanted to help homeless animals. She's not old enough to walk the dogs at the KHS shelter, but decided as a summer project she could use her talents for them.

She equated it to children with a lemonade stand. Her daughter was the only one playing, and she hadn't heard of any complaints.

"It's one kid," she said of what she was thinking at the time. "Just let her do it."

Doug Eastwood, city parks director, said the city does require permits for such activities.

A facility use permit is free and can be obtained at City Hall. It allows the city to know what is going on within its property.

By requiring permits, city parks are not inundated with activities that might conflict with each other, or with park visitors. Folks can't just show up and set up shop.

"It allows us to protect folks like yourself," Eastwood said Thursday.

Karen Hoatson said she and her daughter will visit City Hall to inquire about obtaining the proper permit.

Sarah, her mom said, has always loved dogs. They have one at home, she reads about them, and knows the breeds.

It was Sarah who came up with the idea of playing her violin to raise money for dogs and cats.

"She wanted to be a vet for a while, but she could never put one down," Karen said.

Sarah still wants to raise the remaining funds for the Adopt a Cage program.

Chris McDowell, shelter manager, said the program is a popular way to benefit the animals there. Funds provide food, vaccinations and other essentials.

"It works well," she said.

Those giving the $110 can, for one year, have a small plaque attached to a kennel cage door, with an inscribed message.

Sarah produced a copy of the note she plans to use.

"Dogs are not our whole life. They make our life whole." - Roger Carass.

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